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ulletin of the 






- 1 APR 2003 


Volume 123 A - Supplement. 2003 

Why Museums Matter: 

Avian Archives in an Age of Extinction 

Edited by Nigel Collar, Clem Fisher & Chris Feare 

3 rd European Symposium of Bird Curators 

Following the first two European conferences on bird collections, in Tring in 1999 and 
in Bonn in 2001, the 3rd Conference will be held in the National Museum of Natural 
History in Leiden, the Netherlands, from Friday 10 - Sunday 12 October 2003. 

The scientific programme will be organised by the Bird Department of the National 
Museum of Natural History, starting early 2003. Ideas and suggestions for the scien- 
tific programme are welcome: please forward these to Dr. Rene W.R.J. Dekker at 

The logistics of the conference will be organised by the Leids Congres Bureau (LCB). 
The LCB will be responsible for conference registration, hotel reservations, mailings, 
etc., and will contact you by email early 2003. The conference will take place in the 
Auditorium of the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, which is only a 5 
minutes walk from the Leiden central railway station. Your accommodation may be 
able to be arranged within walking distance. Leiden can be reached by train from 
Schiphol airport in only 15 minutes. 

The conference fee, which includes registration, documentation, lunch (2), tea and 
coffee (but not dinner and hotel reservations), will be approximately 175-200 Euro. 

Programme: Friday 10 October 2003 - afternoon: arrival and registration; Saturday 11 
and Sunday 12 October 2003 - lectures and panel discussions. 

The NEW bird collection is open for study during the week, but NOT on Saturday and 
Sunday during the conference. 

If you would like to receive future mailings about the 3rd European Conference on 
Bird Collections in October 2003 in Leiden, please send an email to 

Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

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Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Bulletin of the 


Vol. 1 23A Published 1 5 March 2003 

Why Museums Matter: 

Avian Archives in an 
Age of Extinction 

Papers from a conference of this title 

held at Green Park, Aston Clinton, and 

workshops at the Natural History Museum, 

Tring, 12-15 November 1999 

Edited by 

Nigel J Collar, Clemency T Fisher 

and Chris J Feare 

2 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Phillip Alexander Clancey 

The publication of these conference proceedings as a supplement to the Bulletin of 
the British Ornithologists ' Club has been made possible by a generous legacy to the 
Club by the late Dr Phillip Clancey. Dr Clancey contributed specimens to and used 
museums extensively during his studies on the taxonomy of African birds (see his 
Obituary - Bull. B.O.C. 121:217-218 (2001)) and wished his legacy to be used to 
support the Bulletin, in which he published many of his findings. 

It seems fitting that Dr Clancey's legacy should be used to highlight the continuing 
importance of museums as archives for historic and current collections of 
ornithological material and we are pleased to dedicate this volume to his memory. 

Recommended citation: 

Collar, N.J., Fisher, C.T. & Feare, C.J. (eds.) 2003. Why museums matter: avian archives in an age of 
extinction. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. Supplement, 123 A: 1-360. 

3 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Editors' commentary and acknowledgements 

If publication of any set of symposium papers is delayed, it becomes increasingly 
problematic to follow through the standard editing process of refereeing and 
negotiation with authors over the final version of their contributions. The difficulty 
largely derives from the fact that material left unpublished too long begins to date, 
and it becomes uncertain whether it is better to leave the contributions as they were 
at the time they were made, or to update them in the light of more recent publications. 
Decisions either way can create a sense of loss of authenticity. Some authors in the 
present proceedings declined to include new material relevant to their subject; others 
chose to include some, opportunistically; still others provided a comprehensively 
up-to-date version of their papers. However, the discrepancies are not striking, and 
we strongly commend these proceedings as a relevant, comprehensive and topical 
collective review of the values of museums in ornithology. We also note that, 
meanwhile, other assertions of the value of museum collections of birds have been 
no less insistent (e.g. Griffiths & Bates 2002, Oniki 2002). 

These proceedings are the first of what we now expect to be a series documenting 
meetings of bird curators held in Europe to discuss and promote cooperation between 
museums. The meeting at the Natural History Museum's Bird Department at Tring 
in Hertfordshire in November 1999 engendered a second conference in Bonn in 
November 2001 . The Bonn proceedings are due to appear approximately at the same 
time as those from Tring, in early 2003 (Rheinwald in press). A third conference is 
scheduled to be held in Leiden in October 2003, and doubtless its proceedings will 
appear in due course. 

Profound apologies must be extended to the authors for the delay in editing their 
contributions, but we must also thank them all warmly for their very positive response 
to our requests for their rapid cooperation. We also thank those who in mid-year 
2002 most generously undertook to referee the papers, at very short notice and with 
very short turn-around times: P. Andrew, T. M. Brooks, L. Christidis, J. H. Cooper, 
E. C. Dickinson, J. Fjeldsa, R. E. Green, H. Jakober, I. Newton, R. B. Payne, R. P. 
Prys- Jones, C. S. Roselaar, D. W. Snow, W. Stauber, F. D. Steinheimer and R. Yosef. 
We also thank the British Ornithologists' Union and British Ornithologists' Club, 
particularly S. P. Dudley, C. J. Feare and T. W. Gladwin, for their strong 
encouragement and support in bringing the editing of these proceedings to a 

Griffiths, C. S. & Bates, J. M. 2002. Morphology, genetics and the value of voucher specimens: an 

example with Cathartes vultures. J. Raptor Res. 36: 183-187. 
Oniki, Y. 2002. Another value of specimens in museum collections. Ornitologia Neotropical 13: 323- 

Rheinwald, G, (ed.) In press. Conference Proceedings of the Second European Symposium 'Bird 

Collections in Europe: The Challenges of Mutual Cooperation'. Bonn. zool. Beitr. 51(3-4). 

Editor's commentary and acknowledgements 4 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Addresses: N. J. Collar. Conservation Biology Group, Department of Zoology, Downing Street, 
Cambridge CB2 3EJ, U.K.: and BirdLife International, Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge 
CB4 ONA, U.K. C. T. Fisher. Department of Zoology, Liverpool Museum, William Brown Street, 
Liverpool L3 8EN, U.K. 

After the delays to which Nigel Collar and Clem Fisher have referred above, the 
decision to publish these proceedings as a supplement to the Bulletin of the British 
Ornithologists' Club was made only in late 2002. By the time the texts began to fall 
on to my desk in December 2002, the bulk of the editing had been completed and we 
set the somewhat daunting target of publishing the supplement in March 2003. My 
task was largely to convert the style to Bulletin format and to send the texts to the 
authors for final approval, during which I did seek clarifications and revisions. I am 
grateful to Nigel and Clem for the huge editorial job that they had already done, and 
to the authors for responding so rapidly to my appeals for urgent attention to the 
final details. This rapid publication also involved speedy processing by our typesetter, 
Alcedo Publishing, and our printer, Crowes of Norwich, and I am grateful to them 
for making it possible. 

Chris Feare 

Hon. Editor, Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 

5 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


by Robert Prys-Jones 

My desire to plan the conference ' Why Museums Matter: Avian Archives in an Age 
of Extinction and its associated workshop 'Increased Co-operation between Museum 
Bird Collections, especially in Europe' arose out of two interrelated facts which had 
become apparent to me in my role as collection manager of one of the world's largest 
bird collections. First, in an era of ever-rising threats to ever more bird species 
worldwide, it was increasingly important to improve cooperation between museums 
in collating and making available information about the bird specimen resources 
they look after. Second, such cooperation would most easily arise out of personal 
contact, but at the time no forum existed, at least within Europe, to facilitate the 
meeting and exchange of views among bird collection management staff. 

The aim was therefore to organise a conference containing a suite of papers 
focusing comprehensively on the content and value of bird collections and on research 
arising directly out of them, but avoiding undue overlap with previously published 
reviews (e.g. Miller 1985). Although open to all interested parties, the core target 
audience would comprise representatives with hands-on collection management 
responsibilities from as many European museums containing significant bird 
collections as possible, but leavened with a cross-section of speakers from museums 
elsewhere, and indeed from other relevant backgrounds, to provide wider 
perspectives. This would be followed by a workshop, open only to museum personnel, 
aimed at facilitating a structured general discussion of issues of common concern 
and priorities for future cooperative action. The focus on European museum staff 
seemed desirable both because the continent is a coherent entity which contains 
numerous important bird collections, hitherto lacking any interaction of the type 
achieved by their U.S. equivalents at, for example, American Ornithologists' Union 
meetings and through the electronic discussion forum AVECOL, and because funding 
and logistical constraints precluded any comprehensive worldwide approach. 

Given that the whole enterprise was undertaken on a shoestring budget, the 
response and outcome were gratifying. Approximately 130 people from 25 countries 
attended, including representatives from the great majority of larger, and some 
smaller, European bird collections. The conference speakers, almost all of whom 
attended at their own expense, must be congratulated for sticking to their briefs and 
producing contributions of a high standard, as is fully evident from these published 
proceedings (for reviews of the event, see Brooke 2000 and Cooper 2000). The 
workshop discussions, summarised herein (see under Cooper & Steinheimer), were 
lively and constructive, and have led directly to a number of initiatives, such as the 
setting up of eBEAC (the electronic Bulletin for European Avian Curators), and a 
strong stimulus towards the goal of a world avian type specimen list. Perhaps the 
best indication that a real need was being addressed came through the general 
agreement that the meeting should become the first of a biennial series, with staff of 

Introduction 6 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

the Alexander Koenig Research Institute and Museum of Zoology, Bonn, Germany, 
hosting a second European Bird Curators' symposium in 2001, and with plans well 
advanced now for a third in the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden, The 
Netherlands in 2003. 

In planning and carrying through this enterprise, I was fortunate in the variety of 
assistance that became available from both individuals and organisations. The British 
Ornithologists' Union accepted the conference as one of its regular series, making 
freely available its administrative and publicity machinery and the able organising 
skills of its staff, Steve Dudley and Gwen Bonham. The British Ornithologists' Club 
provided funding to support attendance of the conference and workshop by museum 
personnel who would otherwise have been precluded from coming, as well as 
supporting the publication of these proceedings. The Natural History Museum 
allowed its Bird Group staff to take time to plan and organise the conference and 
workshop, and permitted use of the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum for the 
conference reception. BirdLife International also lent its support to the enterprise, 
signalling clearly its recognition of natural history museums as key players in 
conservation science. 

Scientific organisation of the entire event was shared between Drs Nigel Collar, 
Clem Fisher, Kees Roselaar and myself. As well as his role in running the workshop, 
Kees Roselaar has made a particularly noteworthy contribution in compiling the 
European bird collections directory that is published in these proceedings and which 
will hopefully soon be available on-line. Professor Sir Robert May, then U.K. 
Government Chief Scientific Advisor, graciously agreed to give the opening address. 
Mark Adams, Joanne Cooper, Steven Parry, Jorn Scharlemann, Don Smith, Frank 
Steinheimer and Michael Walters of the NHM Bird Group played indispensable 
roles in assisting with all the logistical requirements necessary to ensure the 
programme ran smoothly. Dr Andrew Richford (Academic Press) kindly underwrote 
the cost of refreshments for the conference reception. 

The production of these proceedings has been delayed for reasons which fall 
very largely at my door and for which I apologise to all contributors. Their appearance 
now is due almost entirely to the efforts of Nigel Collar, who has played very much 
the leading role in collating and editing the contents of this volume. The whole 
enterprise has been a satisfying one to be associated with and hopefully will have a 
legacy of lasting value. 


Brooke, M. de L. 2000. Why museums matter. Trends Ecol. Evol. 15: 136-137. 
Cooper, J. 2000. Report on "Why museums matter". Ibis 142: 347-348. 

Miller. E. H. (ed.) 1985. Museum collections: their roles and future in biological research. Occasional 
Papers of the British Columbia Provincial Museum 25. 

Address: Robert Prys-Jones, Bird Group, Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Akeman 
Street, Tring, Herts HP23 6AP, UK. 

Jurgen Haffer 7 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Avian zoogeography, speciation 
and the museum tradition 

by Jurgen Haffer 


Zoogeographical studies involving the identification of speciation patterns in birds have 
been greatly facilitated by the preparation of distribution maps using published localities 
and unpublished museum specimen records. Zoogeographical patterns in Amazonian birds 
include six conspicuous areas of endemism and numerous sharply defined contact zones 
between closely related geographically representative birds. Many contact zones cluster 
along the Amazon and the lower portions of its tributaries, but others cross river courses 
at rightangles. Parapatric contact zones generate many important riddles over the processes 
whereby species remain intact (do the zones remain stationary or fluctuate, how is parapatry 
maintained, why and when did it originate? etc.); parapatric patterns in New Guinea lowland 
birds offer further opportunities to solve such questions. Studies based on museum 
collections continue to contribute valuable data on the character geography of particular 
species groups (in the case of migrant Arctic waders based on extensive quantification of 
subtle character differences between populations), on geographical variation of sexual 
dimorphism, and geographically variable polymorphism. 


Bird collections in natural history museums document the occurrence of common, 
rare, threatened and extinct species obtained in accessible and inaccessible areas of 
the world. Collections form the basis of systematic and zoogeographic studies, for 
research on geographic variation, study of plumage colour patterns, ecomorphology, 
biodiversity and many other topics. Early private and public collections were already 
important during the period when ornithology originated as a separate branch of 
zoology during the first half of the nineteenth century. Later, scientists and commercial 
collectors travelled widely overseas contributing to the rapid growth of the regional 
knowledge of the avifaunas of the world, and leading to a conspicuous boom in bird 
collections during the second half the nineteenth century and into the twentieth 
century (Stresemann 1975, Barrow 1998, Mearns & Mearns 1998, Haffer 2001, 
Glaubrecht 2002). 

Below I demonstrate the constant and non-substitutable relevance of museum 
collections to the topic of avian zoogeography, in particular the mapping of breeding 
and wintering ranges of birds, the study of individual and geographic variation, 
the analysis of contact zones between subspecies and species as well as of areas of 
endemism. I show that bird collections stored in museums are essential tools for 
such research. Conceptual contributions of systematists to biological science 
through specimen-based research include the theory of geographical speciation, 
the principle of population thinking, and the interpretation of the gradualness of 

Jihrgen Haffer 8 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Mapping of breeding and wintering ranges 

Precise locality data and the dates of collecting are the basic information on specimen 
labels needed for taxonomic and zoogeographic work. Such notes are often 
supplemented by data on the colour of bill, feet, iris and skin around the eye, as well 
as by information on moult and stomach contents. The field notebooks of the 
collectors frequently provide information on the ecology and calls of particular birds. 
Obviously, the correct labelling of museum specimens, as to where and when a bird 
was taken, is of crucial importance, including information on the altitude of the 
collecting locality, especially in mountains, and its position with respect to the left 
or right bank of a broad river. Occasional misidentifications of birds can only be 
clarified through reference to preserved specimens. 

Locality data are utilised in taxonomic and faunistic publications as well as in 
regional atlas projects like those which have been published for Palearctic and African 
birds. In the Palearctic atlas (Stresemann, Portenko et al. 1960-2000) the limits of 
the breeding ranges of selected species are mapped and the localities used to trace 
these range limits are documented in the accompanying text of each map, which 
also includes discussions of the ecology and taxonomy of these birds. The detailed 
documentation of all localities as to their literature source permits their verification 
in case of later need. So far 19 instalments of this atlas treat 210 species of birds in 
62 genera which have been studied cooperatively by 16 scientists, mainly at the 
Berlin and St. Petersburg Zoological Museums. 

The atlases of African passerine (Hall & Moreau 1970) and non-passerine birds 
(Snow 1978) map the distributions of more or less related and geographically 
representative species onto a background vegetation map of Africa. Each locality 
where a species has been collected is marked with a particular symbol (solid or open 
circle, triangle, square, etc.). Such presentation permits at-a-glance appreciation of 
the ecological occurrence of a species, its relative abundance (few or many locality 
records) and the location of contact zones, i.e. areas of geographic replacement, 
between related representatives (with or without hybridisation). These aspects would 
not be so obvious if the distribution of each member species of such superspecies or 
species groups had been illustrated on a separate map. Numerous opportunities for 
field studies become apparent simply by studying these African maps. 

Although the use of point-locality mapping in these African atlases is extremely 
valuable as a means of establishing baseline distributions, there are two drawbacks 
(N. J. Collar pers. comm.): (1) the mapped locality records are not tagged with a 
source, so that in cases of doubt they cannot be scrutinised; and (2) not all sources 
have been used and certain information is missing. In a less detailed manner, Moreau 
(1972) mapped and discussed the summer and winter distributions of all Palearctic 
migratory birds. 

South America has immense potential for mapping species distributions thanks 
to the extraordinary programme of gazetteer production for every South American 
country by R. A. Paynter (Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts) and 

Jurgen Haffer 9 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

M. A. Traylor (Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago). Each volume compiles 
all geographic localities in the ornithological literature, together with hundreds of 
unpublished localities represented in the world's major ornithological collections. 
Each entry lists the coordinates of the locality, elevation, habitat notes, and dates 
visited by the respective ornithological collector(s); see, e.g., the gazetteers by Paynter 
& Traylor (1991) for Brazil and by Paynter (1993, 1997) for Ecuador and Colombia. 
In the future, these and other gazetteers will permit the precise mapping of all South 
American species ranges for detailed biogeographical analyses, which so far have 
been based on less comprehensive datasets. When the complete distribution maps 
are available, it will be quite easy also to determine, for example, the coverage of 
the neotropical lowlands by museum samples and which museum collection contains 
the best representation of the bird fauna of a particular region in South America. 

Zoogeographical aspects of the Amazonian bird fauna 

I summarise below some results of my research based on studies of the birds preserved 
in the collections of several North American and European museums. 

Areas of endemism 

The ranges of many bird species and well-differentiated subspecies cluster in fairly 
restricted regions of the continents, characterising 'areas of endemism' . Other authors 
have designated such regions 'centres of endemism', 'distribution centres', 'core 
areas' and 'dispersal centres.' Six main areas of endemism are developed in Amazonia 
(Haffer 1969, 1974, 1978, Muller 1973, Cracraft 1985). Each of these areas is 
characterised by 10-50 species. By superimposing their ranges and contouring their 
numbers, areas of maximal overlap of breeding ranges of each species group are 
emphasised. These six areas of endemism are located in peripheral regions of 
Amazonia (Napo, Inambari, Imeri, Rondonia, Guiana and Belem). More widespread 
species inhabit increasingly larger distribution areas comprising two or more areas 
of endemism. Several groups of birds composed of geographically representative 
species characterising the several areas of endemism form conspicuous mosaic 
distribution patterns over all of Amazonia (e.g. Pionopsitta parrots, Selenidera 
toucanets, Ramphastos toucans and Pipra manakins). 

In their global survey of endemism in birds, Stattersfield et al. (1998) identified 
only those areas of endemism ('endemic bird areas' or EBAs) which are characterised 
by at least two species with ranges of less than 50,000 km 2 each. They left unmapped 
other areas of endemism where the most restricted species have slightly larger ranges. 
This is the reason why in Amazonia only the Napo, Inambari and Imeri areas appear 
on their map (under slightly different names), whereas the very conspicuous areas 
of endemism of Guiana, Belem and Rondonia remained unidentified. This is not 
meant as a criticism but to point out the problem when a practical criterion (i.e. 
50,000 km 2 ) within the framework of conservation biology is used as a cut-off for 
biogeographic mapping in a huge lowland plain with no major barriers like Amazonia. 

J&rgen Haffer 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Contact zones between subspecies and species of birds 

Many Amazonian birds meet and exclude each other geographically with or without 
hybridisation along sharply defined contact zones. These areas of contact represent 
major zones of biogeographic discontinuity in a continuous forest environment (Fig. 
1 . Table 1 ). Such pairs of taxa inhabit different levels of the forest; some prefer the 
canopy, others the middle levels and still others the understorey. Contact zones may 
or may not follow rivers at least for some distance. 

As examples of conspicuous contact zones, I illustrate the distribution of three 
manakin species of the genus Pipra which inhabit forests near lowland rivers and 
are very common in many regions of Amazonia (Fig. 2). The males are mainly 
black, bright red and yellow; the females are inconspicuously green and similar to 
one another. Wire-tailed Manakin P. filicauda is slightly larger than the other two 
species; its tail feathers are elongated and their shafts project as long wire-like 
filaments (shorter in females). This species inhabits most of upper Amazonia (north 
to the coast of Venezuela), whereas Crimson-hooded Manakin P. aureola is found in 
the forests along the lower Amazon and Madeira Rivers as well as along the coastal 
lowlands of the Guianas. Band-tailed Manakin P. fasciicauda (with a white basal 
tail-band) occupies southern Amazonia and extended its range into north-eastern 


o 1000 km 

I i i 

Fig. I. Contact zones between selected Amazonian forest birds whose locations are independent of or 
variously displaced by river courses. For explanations of figures and letters see Table 1. 

Jiirgen Haffer 


Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


Some species and subspecies of birds which form conspicuous contact zones in Amazonia 
(numbers and letters refer to Fig. 1). 


North of the Amazon River; 

western representatives named first. 



Selenidera reinwardtii 

S. nattereri 



Gymnopithys leucaspis 

G rufigula 



Ramphastos vitellinus culminatus 

R. v. vitellinus 

Ramphastos tucanus cuvieri 

R. t. tucanus 


Veniliornis affinis 

V. cassini 



Pionopsitta barrabandi 

P. caica 


Pteroglossus pluricinctus 

P. aracari 

Selenidera nattereri 

S. culik 


Celeus grammicus 

C. undatus 


South of the Amazon River 

the southern representatives are named first. 



Neomorphus geoffroyi 

N. pucheranii 


Pipra fasciicauda 

P. filicauda 

Pipra coronata exquisita group 

P. c. coronata group 



Galbula tombacea 

G cyanescens 



Pionopsitta barrabandi 

P. vulturina 


Galbula rufoviridis 

G galbula 


Capito dayi 

C. brunneipectus 


Pteroglossus beauharnaesius 

P. aracari 


Xipholena punicea 

X. lamellipennis 



Ramphastos vitellinus pintoi 

R. v. ariel 


Xiphorhynchus elegans 

X. spixii 


Hylophylax poecilinota griseiventris 

H. p. nigrigula 


Pipra nattereri 

P. iris 


Thryothorus genibarbis 

T. cor ay a 



Phoenicircus nigricollis 

P. carnifex 



Pipra fasciicauda 

P. aureola 

and central Brazil. Where these species meet they replace each other geographically 
along sharply defined contact zones without (or very rarely) hybridising (parapatry). 
The contact zone between P. aureola and P. fasciicauda crosses the southern 
tributaries of the lower Amazon River at rightangles. The same is the case with the 
contact zone between P. fasciicauda and P filicauda in upper Amazonia which crosses 
the Purus, Jurua and Ucayali Rivers at more or less rightangles. The situation along 
the upper Rio Jurua (Fig. 3) demonstrates the sharp replacement of these species in 
the uniformly distributed forests around the small village of Sobral where one male 
and three females of filicauda and two males of fasciicauda have been collected. 
Hybridisation does not seem to occur. To the south of Sobral, only P. fasciicauda is 
encountered in the forests to Taumaturgo and the Rio Tejo, a distance of 50 km (20 

Jurgen Haffer 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Fig. 2. Distribution of manakins of the Pipra aureola superspecies (males illustrated; plumage colour is 
yellow, red, orange and black). Locality records (symbols) refer to the following species: Crimson- 
hooded Manakin (P. aureola, open circles and horizontal hatching), Band-tailed Manakin (Pfasciicauda, 
solid circles and stippling), and Wire-tailed Manakin (P. filicauda, solid triangles and vertical dashes). 

specimens in the Museu Paraense E. Goeldi, Belem, Para). North of Sobral 
presumably only P. filicauda occurs. Details of the ecological relations between 
these two species will have to be determined through fieldwork around the village 
of Sobral. 

Many contact zones cluster along the Amazon River and along the wide lower 
portions of some of its tributaries (Haffer 1978). However, the most important 
zoogeographical aspect of Amazonian contact zones is the fact that the locations of 
many other such zones are independent of river courses, crossing even the largest 
ones at rightangles, including the Amazon River itself. Examples of upper/lower 
Amazonian taxa whose contact zones in central Amazonia cross the middle or lower 
Amazon River from north to south are the following: Cobalt-winged Parakeet 
Brotogeris cyanoptera /Golden-winged Parakeet B. chrysopterus, 'Cuvier's Toucan' 

Jurgen Haffer 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Fig. 3. Parapatric contact between Wire-tailed Manakin (Piprafilicauda, above and triangles) and Band- 
tailed Manakin (P. fasciicauda, below and circles) along the upper Rio Jurua in westernmost Brazil. 
Sketches illustrate adult males. Collecting localities from north to south are Cruzeiro do Sul (CS), Sobral 
(S; both species!), Porongaba (P), Igarape Sao Luis (SL), Seringal Oriente (SO), Taumaturgo (T), and 
Rio Tejo (RT). PW Porto Valter. Dashed line follows border between Brazil and Peru. 

Jurgen Haffer 14 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Ramphastos t. cuvieri/ 'Red-billed Toucan' R. t. tucanus and Rufous-bellied Euphonia 
Euphonia rufiventris / Gelden-sided Euphonia E. cayennensis. The rich collections 
in several museums facilitated a detailed analysis of some of these contact zones 
(Haffer 1974, 1997). 

I should clarify here the terminology I use. Geographically representative taxa 
of birds which meet without a separating barrier in an ecologically rather uniform 
area either hybridise more or less extensively along their contact zone or they exclude 
each other geographically with no (or only very restricted) hybridisation. In the 
former case these taxa represent subspecies of one biological species, whereas in 
the latter case they are differentiated at the species level. Such geographically 
representative species in contact are designated as 'parapatric' to distinguish them 
from sympatric (co-occurring) and allopatric (widely separated) species. Among 
the examples mentioned above, the representatives of Brotogeris and Euphonia are 
parapatric species, whereas those of the Ramphastos toucans hybridise extensively 
where they meet in central Amazonia. The intermediate populations are highly 
variable and composed exclusively of hybrid individuals; parental phenotypes are 
lacking. Under the biological species concept, Ramphastos t. cuvieri and R. t. tucanus 
are subspecies of the White-breasted Toucan R. tucanus. As mentioned above, the 
term 'parapatric' usually refers to species only, although some authors do speak of 
'parapatric subspecies' in those cases where the connecting hybrid zone is very narrow 
(which is not the case in the toucans). 

The members of parapatric species pairs probably compete ecologically and would 
extend their ranges across the contact zone but for the existence there of the competing 
ally (Haffer 1992). These contact zones are located in uniform (but complex) 
vegetation zones or in gradually changing habitat zones where, however, the 
ecological gradients are not steep enough to explain the abrupt replacement of the 
representatives. Each of them appears to be superior to the other in the respective 
area occupied. In the Eastern Andes of Peru, approximately two-thirds of the 
altitudinal distribution limits of bird species are due to ecological competition 
(Terborgh 1985). Competitive exclusion is one of the most important factors 
determining the composition of this rich bird fauna. The frequent occurrence of 
geographical exclusion of species along contact zones in the Amazonian lowlands 
as well as ecological exclusion of species within the rain forest through vertical 
stratification (Terborgh 1980) supports a similar interpretation of the importance of 
ecological competition for the determination of the regional composition of this 
rich tropical lowland avifauna. 

Still to be determined for most or all instances of parapatric contact zones between 
bird species in Amazonia are: 

( 1 ) What is the situation regarding the local distribution of the representative species? 
Do the contact zones remain stationary or do they fluctuate regionally or shift 
gradually in a certain direction? 

(2) In what manner is each zone of parapatry maintained, i.e. why do parapatric 
species not penetrate rach other's ranges? Do agonistic behavioural responses 

JurgenHaffer 15 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

(interference competition) or resource preemption (exploitation competition) by 
their respective representatives prevent parapatric species from overlapping their 
ranges? Which mechanisms assure reproductive isolation of the species along 
their zone of contact? Does reinforcement of pre-mating isolating mechanisms 
and/or of ecological segregation between the species take place at the contact 
zones (i.e. will the two taxa gradually become more different in behaviour, calls, 
ecological preferences, etc.)? 

(3) Why did parapatry originate in each case? Are the locations of contact zones the 
results of historical causes or of current ecological conditions? In instances of 
sympatry, these species might be expected to maintain interspecific territories or 
to occupy mutually exclusive patchy areas of varying extent. 

(4) When did the parapatric species originate and when did they establish contact? 
As examples of detailed taxonomic and zoogeographical analyses of contact 

zones with and without hybridisation of the taxa involved I cite the publications of 
Meise (1928, 1975), Short (1965), Remington (1968), Haffer (1977), and Panov 
(1989), all of which are based on extensive museum studies of bird collections. 

Zoogeographical aspects of the avifauna of New Guinea 

As in Amazonia, conspicuous areas of endemism and contact zones between birds 
are found in the lowlands of New Guinea. The bird faunas of the forested northern 
and southern lowlands are separated by the enormous 'wall' of the central mountain 
range extending for 2,000 km from the Geelvink Bay in the north-west to the south- 
eastern tip of the island. The following lowland regions are zoogeographically 
significant as areas of endemism (Stresemann 1936, Pratt 1982, Beehler etal. 1986): 
(1) the Vogelkop region at the north-western end of New Guinea; in northern New 
Guinea the basins (2) of the rivers Mamberano-Idenburg and (3) of the rivers Sepik- 
Ramu; (4) the lowlands of southern New Guinea. Examples of characteristic 
distribution patterns of lowland New Guinea birds are summarised in Fig. 4 and 
Table 2. 

Many taxa of southern New Guinea extended their ranges westward beyond the 
Geelvink Bay into the Vogelkop region of NW New Guinea (Fig. 4/1 B). In other 
cases the representatives of northern New Guinea reached the Vogelkop region first 
(Fig. 4/1 C) or an endemic form exists in the latter area and three geographical 
representatives are in contact in the lowlands around the Geelvink Bay (Fig. 4/1 A). 
This is the case, e.g., in the brush-turkeys Talegalla (Fig. 4/2) and the crowned- 
pigeons Goura (Fig. 4/3). The northern and southern taxa usually meet near the 
south-eastern end of the central mountain range where the northern or the southern 
form has surrounded the south-eastern tip of New Guinea or both meet there near 
Milne Bay. In several other cases the representatives are separated by a distributional 

The distributional ranges of the three Talegalla species inhabiting the Vogelkop 
region (Red-billed Brush-turkey T. cuvieri), northern New Guinea (Brown-collared 

Jurgen Haffcr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

,:* 9 

Fig. 4. Distribution patterns of selected species and subspecies of birds inhabiting the rainforests of the 
lowlands and lower montane levels in New Guinea, after Stresemann (1936) and Pratt (1982), with 
additional data. (Legend on page 17) 

Jurgen Haffer 17 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Brush-turkey T. jobiensis) and southern New Guinea (Black-billed Brush-turkey T. 
fuscirostris) are in contact in several areas but do not overlap. T. cuvieri and T. 
fuscirostris are in contact at the western end of the Snow Mountains where the 
former species inhabits the lower montane forests above the range of T. fuscirostris 
(Jones et al. 1995:117). In eastern New Guinea, T. jobiensis crossed low passes of 
the central mountain range in a southern direction and here also occurs locally in the 
lower montane forests above T. fuscirostris (Fig. 4/2). Obviously, the presence of T. 
fuscirostris prevents the southward advance of the two northern species into the 
lowland forests of southern New Guinea. The three Goura species replace one another 
geographically in a similar manner (with restricted hybridisation in the areas where 
they meet). In other birds where the geographical representatives are considered as 
subspecies, these taxa hybridise extensively along the contact zones or are assumed 
to do so. 

Geographical variation 

The individual and geographic variation of numerous bird species have been analysed 
for over one hundred years with methods that have become increasingly sophisticated 
in recent decades. These methods have been adequately reviewed by Selander (1971), 
Gould & Johnston (1972) and Baker (1985). I emphasise that detailed descriptions 
of local populations and artificial delimitation of subspecies cannot depict accurately 
the complex patterns of geographical variation in many wide-ranging species on 
continents. With sufficient specimen material available over a large area, computers 
can analyse regional trends statistically, and can generate isolines, contour maps, 
and trend-surface maps. In this way, regional patterns of character variation may be 
documented and analysed quantitatively, without a priori reference to subspecies 

Legend to Fig. 4 

Solid - mountains over 1 000 m elevation. 1 A-C Areas of endemism (open double arrows) as distribution 
centres of endemic species and subspecies (V Vogelkop, MI Mamberano-Idenburg region, SR Sepik- 
Ramu region, SW south-western lowland region, SE south-eastern lowland region). 1A Contact south 
of Geelvink Bay between endemic forms of the Vogelkop, the northern and southern lowlands; IB 
Vogelkop and southern lowlands are inhabited by the same form (or group of subspecies) which 
established contact with the northern form at Geelvink Bay; 1C Vogelkop and northern lowlands are 
inhabited by the same form (or group of subspecies) which established contact with the southern form 
also at Geelvink Bay. Either the northern or the southern form extended its range around the south- 
eastern tip of New Guinea or both established contact near the tip itself (Milne Bay), e.g. map no. 3. 
Symbols: A - geographical exclusion without hybridisation; H - hybridisation along the contact zone; 
stippled area - endemic form of the Vogelkop; dashed and hatched vertically - forms of the southern 
lowlands and, in some cases, of the Vogelkop; dashed horizontally - forms of the northern lowlands 
and, in some cases, of the Vogelkop. 

Examples shown are: 2 Talegalla; note the occurrence of T. cuvieri on the southern slope of the Snow 
Mountains (two open circles) and of T. jobiensis on the southern slopes of the Central Mountains (x), 3 
Goura, 4 Lorius, 5 Psittaculirostris, 6 Micropsitta, g M. geelvinkiana, m M. meeki, 7 Geoffroyus, 8 
Cicinnurus, 9 Paradisaea, r P. rubra, d P. decora. For further details see text and Table 2. 

jOrgen Haffer 18 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


Characteristic species and subspecies of birds inhabiting the rainforests of the tropical lowlands and 

lower montane levels in New Guinea. Arrows indicate range extension. Numbers refer to the 

corresponding distribution maps in Figure 4. 

South North-west North 

(Fly River Platform) (Vogelkop) Mamberano- Sepik-Ramu 


Megapodiidae (2) Talegallafuscirostris — ++—T. cuvieri -+ -4 T. jobiensis 

Columbidae Ptilinopus p. pulchellus ► -4 P. p. decorus 

Ducula p. pinon M D. p. jobiensis 

(3) Goura scheepmakeri Mh G cristata —+-4 G. victoria 

Psittacidae Chalcopsitta scintillata W— C. atra H C. duivenbodei 

(4) Lorius I. lory-group H L. I. jobiensis-group 

(5) Psittaculirostris desmarestif *■ -4-P. salvadorii n— P. edwardsii 

(6) Micropsitta keiensis H M. pusio 

Probosciger a. ate rrimus-gr oup IM P. a. stenolophus 

(7) G. g. aruensis-group Geoffroyus geoffroyi puche rani-group 

Acanthizidae Gerygone p. palpebrosa-group n G p. wahnesi 

Myiagridae Arses t. telescophthalmus-gvoup IM A. t. insularis 

Paradisaeidae (8) Cicinnurus r. regius-group IM C. r. coccineifrons-group 

(9) Paradisaea apoda + 

P. raggiana+4 Paradisaea minor 

Meliphagidae Philemon n. novaeguineae H P. n. jobiensis 

Dicaeidae Melanocharis n. nigra-group H M. n. unicolor 

Campephagidae L. leucomela H Lalage atrovirens 

Orthonychidae E. c. nigricrissus H Eupetes c. caeruleus-group 

1 This species is composed of 2 subspecies on the west Papuan islands and 4 subspecies in western 
and southern New Guinea (in Fig. 4/5 stippled desmaresti + intermedia, hatched vertically godmani, 
dashed vertically cervicalis). 

JurgenHaffer 19 Bull. B.O. C. 2003 123 A 

names (Haffer & Fitzpatrick 1985). Additional museum and field studies of 
intraspecific variation in birds are needed in order to document regional character 
changes along clines, across contact zones, and across various ecological gradients 
within the tropics. 

The subspecies concept is most useful where applied to discrete, differentiated 
populations that are separated by distributional gaps like those found on islands. 
Within continuous populations inhabiting continental areas subspecies should be 
distinguished in only two situations: (1) at the ends of steep clines, if the two terminal 
populations show uniformity over a substantial portion of their ranges, and (2) where 
two or more wide-ranging populations show different, but in each case fairly uniform, 
character expression ('plateaus' on contour maps) connected by relatively narrow 
zones of character change. 

Many examples of geographic variation in birds have been discussed by Mayr 
(1942, 1963), Zink & Remsen (1986) and, with particular reference to Palearctic 
birds, Voous (1947, 1949, 1950, 1953a,b) and Vaurie (1953-1964). 

Arctic migrants 

A recent example of an extensive quantitative study of the geographical variation of 
northern waders is the work of Engelmoer & Roselaar (1998) undertaken in the 
context of conservation work. Many wader species migrate in huge flocks along the 
East Atlantic flyway. For conservation purposes, it is important to determine 
approximately the composition of these flocks in relation to the different geographical 
origin of the breeding birds. Most of them congregate after breeding over widely 
dispersed areas in remote boreal and arctic regions as far apart as Greenland and the 
tundra of eastern Siberia where it is difficult to obtain population estimates. As long 
as morphometric and colour differences among breeding populations of the various 
species exist, quantitative estimates of the composition of migrating and wintering 
flocks are now possible based on a computer program ('Poscon') which determines 
the posterior probabilities and confidence intervals for a particular bird to belong to 
one of the differing breeding populations of its species. Based on their study of 
nearly 5,000 specimens in many museums, the authors analysed on a very thorough 
statistical basis the geographic variation of the breeding populations of 1 5 wader 
species of the Northern Hemisphere to provide a sound database for the continuing 
conservation effort with migrating and wintering wader populations in western 
Europe and in other parts of the world. Geographical variation is studied on the 
basis of standard measurements (lengths of wing, culmen, tarsus, tail, selected primary 
feathers, etc.) and scoring of the geographically variable colour of certain portions 
of the plumage like uppertail-co verts and axillaries in some species. The birds include 
such common migrants as Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Red Knot Calidris 
canutus, Sanderling C. alba, Dunlin C. alpina, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, 
Curlew N. arquata, Redshank Tringa totanus and Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria 

Jurgen Haffer 20 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Character geography within species groups 

Comparative studies of the species and subspecies of a large genus or of a family 
permit historical and ecological analyses of various character states such as colour 
patterns, size, relative tail length and shape of tail, bill size and shape, voice, nests, 
nesting habits and their functional adaptations. Examples of such comparative 
evolutionary studies (of which many more are required) are those of Mayr & 
Moynihan (1946) on the flycatching Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons group in 
the Malay Archipelago and the Papuan region, and of Mayr & Amadon (1947) on 
the species of flowerpeckers, Dicaeidae, in these same regions. A similar analysis of 
the 20 species of drongo, Dicruridae, distributed in South-East Asia and the Malay 
Archipelago revealed that the characters of the more specialised species, such as 
large size, frontal crests, long tails, and modifications of the outermost tail feathers, 
have arisen independently in different branches of the family. Every character varies 
geographically and is correlated with such features of the environment as temperature 
and humidity. Double invasions of the same parental stock have led either to the 
existence of two sympatric species or to the formation of hybrid flocks (Mayr & 
Vaurie 1948:264-265). Snow (1954) published a similar treatment of trends in 
geographical variation in Palearctic members of the tits Parus. Other evolutionary 
trends among related allopatric species of the Neotropical Region are the increasing 
length of the central tail feathers in Chiroxiphia and of the uppertail-coverts in 

Studies of the relations between wing and tail length in several groups of closely 
related species revealed certain trends whose functional interpretation is still open. 
In the series Brambling Fringilla montifringilla-EuropQan Chaffinch F. c. coelebs 
group-Chaffinch of NW Africa F. c. spodiogenys group-Canary Island Chaffinch F 
c. canariensis [= tintillon] group, tail length increases as the wing becomes shorter 
and more rounded (Eck 1975). Tail length is only 70% of wing length in the Brambling 
and increases to 83% in the F c. canariensis group. The underlying selection pressures 
may be linked to long-distance migration and 'island effect' (Grant 1979). With 
respect to size, the Blue Chaffinch F teydea of pine forests in the mountains of 
Tenerife and Gran Canada is an isometrically enlarged European Chaffinch. Wing 
and tail length decrease in the subspecies of the Sombre Tit Parus lugubris from the 
Balkan Peninusula east to northern Iran. Because small Pere David's Tit P. davidi of 
south-western China, with bright cinnamon underparts, continues this trend of 
decrease in size, Eck (1980, 1988) considered this geographically isolated species 
as a representative and close relative of the western P. lugubris, pointing out that the 
plumage colour in P. (I.) hyrcanus of northern Iran (underparts tinged rusty) is 
somewhat intermediate. The Great Tits of the Parus major complex have a wing 
length of approximately 65-80 mm; the tail is relatively longer and more graduated 
in the bokharensis group of Middle Asia than in the other subspecies groups (Eck 

Jiirgen Haffer 2 1 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Geographical variation in sexual dimorphism 

In several species of birds females show stronger geographical variation than males 
('heterogynism': Hellmayr 1929). This has been observed in South American antbirds, 
Thamnophilidae, in which the males have a non-variable black plumage while the 
colouration of the females is geographically variable shades of brown. Other examples 
of heterogynism are White-shouldered Fairy wren Malurus alboscapulatus (Mayr & 
Rand 1935) and Sulawesi Cuckooshrike Malurus alboscapulatus (Mayr & Rand 
1935) and Moluccan Greybird Coracina morio (Stresemann 1939). It remains 
unknown how widespread heterogynism is among birds. 

A related topic is the geographically varying degree of sexual dimorphism. On 
small oceanic islands, some birds show reduced conspicuousness and sexual 
dimorphism compared with their mainland relatives, probably because there are 
fewer species on the islands and the problems of species recognition are reduced, 
resulting in a reduction of sexual dimorphism. A latitudinal gradient of sexual 
dimorphism involves the New World warblers, Parulidae, and New World orioles, 
Icteridae. Tropical species tend to be sexually monomorphic and conspicuous, 
whereas north temperate species tend to be sexually dimorphic (Hamilton 1961). 
Nesting habits also influence the degree of sexual dimorphism. The females of hole- 
nesting birds, such as rollers, kingfishers and parrots, are frequently as colourful as 
their males, because they need no protection through adaptive (camouflage) 
colouration while sitting on the nest. 

Three particularly conspicuous examples of geographical variation in sexual 
dimorphism are the highly polytypic Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis of 
the Malay Archipelago, Papuan and Australian regions (Mayr 1932, Galbraith 1956), 
Scarlet Robin Petroica multicolor of the islands in the south-western Pacific Ocean 
(Mayr 1942:48) and the Pomarea 'flycatchers' of the Marquesas Islands (Murphy 
1938). A genetic drift hypothesis may account for the origin of geographic variation 
in sexual dimorphism in birds (Peterson 1996). 

Geographical variation in polymorphism 

In most polymorphic species with discontinuous colour phases there is no evidence 
for selective mating or any other advantage of the morphs (Mayr 1942:75). In some 
instances polymorphism varies geographically, the percentages of morphs in the 
populations changing over large distances, e.g. in the Pacific Reef-heron Egretta 
sacra, Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae and Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna 
papou (reviewed by Huxley 1955). In some cases, geographical gradients in 
polymorphism may be linked to hybridisation along secondary contact zones of 
previously separated (monomorphic) populations. Subsequent regional introgression 
may have led to the development of polymorphism, e.g. in the Black Bulbul 
Hypsipetes leucocephalus (Mayr 1941, 1942:83) and in two pairs of wheatear species, 
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica/Picd Wheatear O. pleschanka (Haffer 
1977) and Variable Wheatear O. picata/O. opistholeuca (Panov 1992). Huxley's 

Jurgen Haffer 22 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

conclusion is still valid: The time seems ripe for a detailed survey of the incidence 
of colour- and pattern-morphism in birds'. 

Conceptual contributions of systematists 

Conceptual contributions of systematists to the biological sciences through their 
museum studies of animal collections include the theory of geographical speciation, 
the principle of population thinking and the interpretation of the gradualness of 
evolution (Mayr 1973, 1980). These topics will be briefly discussed below. 

Geographical speciation 

Beginning with Leopold von Buch, Charles Darwin and Alfred R. Wallace during 
the first half of the nineteenth century a steadily growing number of systematists 
advocated the theory of geographical speciation from small isolated populations. 
This theory combines two seemingly incompatible aspects, namely (1) gradual 
evolutionary differentiation of a separated population and (2) the existence of 
bridgeless gaps between coexisting species after the completion of isolating 
mechanisms (Mayr 1942, 1963). The zoogeographical phenomena discussed above, 
like areas of endemism and the occurrence of contact zones in Amazonia and in 
other regions of the world, may be interpreted in terms of the theory of geographical 
speciation. Repeated climatic-vegetational fluctuations during the last several million 
years probably led to the fragmentation and differentiation of the vegetation zones 
and their contained faunas, leading to the development of areas of endemism. As 
climatic conditions changed, the more or less separated faunas were rejoined, leading 
to the overlap and sympatry of ecologically fully compatible species and to the 
formation of the contact zones between representative taxa which had reached various 
intermediate stages of the speciation process during their geographical separation 
(Mayr 1942, 1963, Haffer 1974, 1997, Haffer & Prance 2001). 

Population thinking 

Ornithologists of the mid-nineteenth century discovered, when collecting 'series' 
(population samples) of specimens of one species from certain localities and from 
different regions, that no two specimens were ever completely alike. These are the 
phenomena of individual and geographical variation, respectively. For example, H. 
Schlegel in the Netherlands and J. H. Blasius in Germany, as well as the ornithologists 
around S. F. Baird of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., made great 
efforts to assemble, from the 1850s to the 1880s, series of specimens of each species 
to determine the range of variation, publishing detailed lists of all birds examined 
with information on sex, locality, measurements and colour characters. These workers 
emphasised the occurrence of individual variation of local populations and of 
geographically representative forms (subspecies) delineating polytypic species. Many 
of these and other ornithologists studied variation even though they held typological 
(essentialistic) views, assuming that an internal type or essence maintains the integrity 

Jurgen Haffer 23 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

of each constant species and that variation is no more than an imperfect manifestation 
of its eternal type. 

However, the studies of the ornithologists mentioned above prepared the ground 
for the development of 'population thinking' (Mayr 1959, 1982:46). Under this 
evolutionary principle individual and geographical variation are real and represent 
important phenomena of the natural world. Geographical variation of isolated 
populations may transcend species limits and lead to the origin of new species. 
Species possess no eternal integrity, and types in the sense of essentialism are 
abstractions. Basic concepts like natural selection acting on populations composed 
of varying individuals are meaningless for typologists. The replacement of typological 
thinking by population thinking through the research of museum workers is perhaps 
the greatest conceptual revolution that has taken place in biology. From systematic s 
it was brought into genetics by researchers who had either been trained as systematists 
or had worked closely with systematists (Mayr 1963:5, 1973). 

Gradualness of evolution 

During the early twentieth century, museum systematists endeavoured to demonstrate, 
through detailed analyses of geographic variation of numerous species, that evolution 
proceeds gradually, as Darwin had postulated, rather than through 'saltations' (jumps), 
as the Mendelists assumed during that time. Rensch (1929) showed that all species 
characters vary geographically and that extreme geographical subspecies may differ 
morphologically more from one another than many good sympatric species. This 
observation made the interpretation of gradual evolution much more probable than 
a saltational course of microevolution. 


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Current Orn. 4: 1-69. 

Address: Jiirgen Haffer, Tommesweg 60, D-45149 Essen, Germany 
© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

Starrs L Olson 26 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Development and uses of avian 
skeleton collections 

by Storrs L. Olson 


The importance of skeletal material in systematic studies of birds was recognised by only 
a few nineteenth-century workers yet osteology has been pivotal in the development of 
phylogenies and classifications of birds and often provides critical clues in problematic 
cases. In morphometric studies, skeletal material yields far more, and more accurate, 
measurements and ratios than obtainable from study skins. Skeletons are essential for the 
identification of fossils, bones from archaeological sites and food items taken by predatory 
animals, as well as being useful in physiological and histological studies. Although world 
skeletal inventories have greatly aided researchers, they also reveal serious deficiencies 
in museum holdings. The need for more material of avian skeletons is undiminished. 


Systematic studies in the various branches of vertebrate zoology differ fundamentally 
according to differences in traditional methods of specimen preparation. In cold- 
blooded vertebrates (fish, amphibians and reptiles) the entire organism is preserved 
intact in fluid, ultimately usually alcohol, in which colours often change. Thus, in 
differentiating lower-level taxa there is a heavy emphasis on meristic characters 
such as number and distribution of spines, fin rays, and especially scales. In birds 
and mammals the fundamental systematic unit has traditionally been the museum 
study skin in which the stuffed, dried integument is preserved, with colouration 
often playing a greater role in systematic decisions than is the case for poikilotherms. 

In the preparation of a traditional mammal study skin, only some of the bones of 
the foot are left in the skin, so that the skinned carcass contains the virtually complete 
skeleton. Despite this, mammalogists have in the past been scandalously remiss in 
preserving skeletal material, apart from the skull and mandible, which are saved as 
part of the skin specimen and which receive equal or greater consideration in 
systematics. Consequently there is a heavy emphasis on cranial characters, 
particularly dentition, in mammalogy. 

Modern birds, of course, have no dentition, and in the traditional museum study 
skin most of the skull and bones of the wings, legs and tail are left in the skin. The 
resulting skinned carcass therefore contains only the bones of most of the vertebral 
column, pectoral girdle, pelvis and femora, along with all of the viscera, tongue and 
trachea. After the sex has been determined, this body or trunk carcass is usually 
discarded. Therefore the process of specimen preparation in ornithology has 
sometimes been described as peeling off the wrapper and throwing the bird away. 
Diagnoses of new species and subspecies of birds have been heavily dependent 
upon plumage colouration and pattern, wing formulae, and the shape and proportions 
of the wing and tail, so that the ornithologist is far more dependent on feathers than 
the mammalogist is upon fur. 

Storrs L. Olson 27 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

For a while, the sternum of birds, because it could be easily extracted from the 
skinned carcass, had a certain vogue as an object of study. Early skeletal collections 
often contained a high proportion of these sterna, usually with the coracoids and 
scapulae still attached, and sometimes one may encounter an old skin in collections 
that still has the sternum tied to the legs or label. Comparative morphology of the 
sternum occupied the attention of several French ornithologists, and probably reached 
its zenith with L'Herminier's (1827) classification of birds based on the morphology 
of the sternum. 

Nevertheless, this osteological diversion did little to further the development of 
avian skeletal collections. The description of new species and subspecies was the 
principal activity of museum ornithologists during all of the nineteenth and most of 
the twentieth centuries, and the study skin was the coin of the realm. As traditionally 
practised, preparation of a complete skeleton meant sacrificing the skin, and field 
collectors were extremely reluctant to bring back other than well-made study skins, 
a reluctance that continued through at least to the 1950s. As an example, in his long 
and distinguished career at the Smithsonian, Alexander Wetmore collected over 
27,500 specimens, nearly 14,500 in Panama alone. Despite the fact that Wetmore 
was active in avian palaeontology, regularly used the Smithsonian skeleton collection, 
and was instrumental in the Institution's purchase of large and important collections 
of skeletons, virtually all of the specimens he collected himself were prepared as 
skins only. The two decades when he was most active in the field marked the period 
of slowest growth in the Smithsonian skeleton collection in the twentieth century 
(C. Ludwig, Smithsonian computer files). 


Serious examination of the avian skeleton can be traced back to the sixteenth century 
with Belon's (1555) classic comparison of the skeleton of a raven (Fig. 1) with that 
of Homo sapiens. Centuries would pass before the study was taken up again. 

Bird skeletons and fluid-preserved specimens were of particular interest to the 
British ornithologists William Jardine and Thomas Eyton. The correspondence of 
the celebrated John Gould (Sauer 1998-2001) contains numerous exchanges between 
these three gentlemen regarding the acquisition of such specimens, and Gould himself 
took care to obtain anatomical specimens of birds for his colleagues during his own 
explorations of Australia. Eyton's researches are epitomised by his Osteologia Avium 

At the same time in France, Alphonse Milne-Edwards produced his monumental 
work on the fossil birds of France (1867-187 1) in which there are many comparisons 
with (and illustrations of) the comparative osteology of modern birds. Likewise, 
skeletal anatomy received considerable attention in his classic work, with Grandidier, 
on the avifauna of Madagascar, in which the skeletons of many different taxa were 
illustrated (Milne-Edwards & Grandidier 1876-1881). At least some of Milne- 
Edwards 's collection still exists at the Paris Museum, although I am told that this 
material was discovered being stored in an alleyway. 

Storrs L. Olson 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

1>L\ ■•■ i •• '. \. I'AR P- BEL ON, 

I'.in-ji.-.L-i.T- .1.-! 

German researchers 
also investigated the 
relationships of birds 
through studies of anatomy, 
including osteology, which 
culminated in the 
exhaustive treatise of Max 
Fiirbringer (1888), whose 
results were adopted by 
Hans Gadow (and later 
Alexander Wetmore) to 
produce the flawed and 
derivative — but extremely 
familiar — system of 
classification of the orders 
of birds that dominated 
ornithological literature 
throughout the twentieth 

Comparative anatomy 
had, of course, long been an 
important zoological tool 
and was the subject of 
intensive research by Baron 
Cuvier in Paris and later by 
Richard Owen in England. 
The field received a 
tremendous boost after 
1859, when Charles 
Darwin's evolutionary 
theories provided a 
rationale for similarities 
and differences in 
anatomical structures. The 
discipline of comparative 
anatomy was formalised in 
some museums by the 
creation of separate 
departments. The avian 

skeletal collections in several museums, such as the Smithsonian Institution, Field 
Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and the Natural History Museum in the 
U.K., have as their nuclei the specimens inherited from now-defunct departments of 
comparative anatomy, or from medical museums such as the former museum of the 

- t In ,<— mi» nrdg %4ff** $ m fu^j*** 
\ 1 ; »vMnk jfc.M, t.ry,»mim. 

Fig. 1 . Skeleton of a Common Raven Corvus corax, by Belon ( 1 555). 
Set next to that of a human skeleton, this was the first detailed 
illustration of an avian skeleton. © The Natural History Museum, 

Storrs L. Olson 29 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Royal College of Surgeons in Britain and the U.S. Army Medical Museum in 


Osteology played a pivotal role in the development of phylogenies and classifications 
of birds, and may still provide critical clues for determining the true relationships of 
taxa that have long been misplaced. For example, skeletal characters were of 
paramount importance in showing that the Australian Plainswanderer Pedionomus 
torquatus belongs in the Charadriiformes and not near the Turnicidae in the 
Gruiformes (Olson & Steadman 1981). Osteological characters were among the many 
lines of evidence adduced to place flamingos with the Charadriiformes rather than 
with storks or ducks (Olson & Feduccia 1980). Even single osteological characters, 
such as fusion of the phalanges of the inner toe in certain genera of Accipitridae 
(Olson 1982), can provide very suggestive clues as to relationships within a particular 

Osteology has figured importantly in recent revisionary studies of birds, by using 
character analyses that supposedly conform with the principles of 'phylogenetic 
systematics' (e.g. Livezey 1996, 1998), although the results may be viewed as mixed 
(e.g. Sorensen et ah 1999). Prior to this, the rise of phenetics, or numerical taxonomy, 
in systematics led to a flurry of activity in avian skeletal collections (e.g. Schnell 
1970). Although this school waned and phenetics is no longer 'politically correct' in 
the world of systematics, its temporary ascendancy did result in increased growth of 
avian skeletal collections and in the emergence of several institutions as major 
resources of skeletal material. These may not have achieved their present importance 
had they not had the initial boost provided by the former interest in phenetics. 

In the traditional bird study skin, relatively few useful standard measurements 
can be taken. Furthermore, these measurements can be very difficult to replicate, in 
part because they may be affected by the state of moult and degree of wear of feathers, 
or even of wear of the ramphotheca. On the other hand, for morphometric studies 
the avian skeleton provides many more possible measurements and ratios, which 
are also much more easily and accurately replicated. Phenetics and morphometries 
were certainly factors in the phenomenal growth of the avian skeletal collection at 
the Royal Ontario Museum, which grew from 1,100 specimens in 1965 to some 
48,000 at present (J. Barlow pers. comm.). Large series of skeletons provide a sound 
basis for assessing geographic size variation within a species. A classic example of 
this is the study by Rising (1987) of sexual dimorphism in skeletons of Savannah 
Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis, in which 24 different measurements were taken 
from 1,791 individuals from 51 populations. For similar studies to be possible, 
however, much more collecting of specimens would be necessary. 

In the investigations mentioned above, the skeletons themselves are the objects 
of study and the scientific results obtained are taken directly from museum skeletal 
collections. However, in the most intensive modern use of skeletal collections of 

Storrs L. Olson 30 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

birds, the skeletons, although of critical importance, are secondary and the objects 
of study are unidentified bird bones that must be compared with skeletons of known 

Although it may not be widely appreciated, there are in fact numerous sources of 
unidentified bird bones. Fossils of all ages are of primary importance for their 
evolutionary information. In numbers, these would be followed by material from 
archaeological sites. Skeleton collections are likewise essential for studies of the 
food remains of predatory birds and mammals; skeletons have been used as indices 
of body size, and in physiological or histological studies such as those charting 
changes in bone structure (the Haversian system), or where attempts have been made 
to age birds using cross sections of long bones. 

Other uses of skeletal collections include exhibitions, teaching scientific 
illustration, other projects which fall into the category of 'art', and various commercial 
ventures such as use in advertisements. Avian skeletal collections also play an 
important role in teaching zoology, and, as would be expected, collections associated 
with universities tend to have had an intensive and consistent use for teaching, 
whereas other collections tend to have been little used for such purposes. Skeletons 
are also used to identify birds involved in airplane strikes (although most such 
identifications are based on feathers), as well as in various forensic applications, 
such as the identification of carcasses of illegally taken birds or, in rare cases, bird 
bones that have been taken as evidence in other crimes. 


In the past quarter century, there has been tremendous growth in the study of fossil 
birds from all time periods — witness the number of papers, and broad range of 
subjects, treated in the volumes which emanated from the first four meetings of the 
Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution (Mourer-Chauvire 1987, Campbell 
1992, Peters 1995, Olson 1999) and two earlier festschrifts (Olson 1976, Campbell 
1980). The diagnosis and description of new species is still one of the main activities 
of avian palaeontologists, and in their work the skeleton has primacy over the study 
skin. The need for adequate comparative material for identifying fossils has been 
one of the prime factors in driving the growth of avian skeleton collections. Notable 
among these are the collection of Pierce Brodkorb (now incorporated in the Florida 
Museum of Natural History) and those assembled mainly by Evegeny Kurochkin 
and at the Palaeontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, 
and by Zygmunt Bochenski at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow. 

A good example of how palaeontological studies have spurred the growth of 
skeletal collections comes from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Alexander 
Wetmore collected extensively in Puerto Rico and wrote the definitive studies of its 
avifauna (Wetmore 1916, 1917). Consequently, the Smithsonian collections of Puerto 
Rican birds were once, for skins, probably the largest and most important in the 
world. However, when I returned from Puerto Rico in 1976 with tens of thousands 
of fossil bird bones from cave deposits on the island, I could find only four skeletons, 

Storrs L. Olson 3 1 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

from three species of bird from Puerto Rico, in the Smithsonian collections. Because 
this was utterly insufficient for researching the fossil avifaunas, a new campaign of 
collecting modern comparative material had to be initiated on Puerto Rico and 
elsewhere in the Antilles. The Smithsonian collections now hold nearly 4,000 
skeletons from throughout the West Indies. Well over 90% of these have been 
collected since 1975, and almost entirely because of their need in palaeontological 

The development of modern collections 

Although by far the majority of skeletal specimens consist of dry bones in varying 
degrees of disarticulation, a small number are prepared as cleared and stained 
specimens in which the soft tissues are rendered more or less translucent and the 
bones and cartilage are dyed different colours. This essentially involves converting 
an intact fluid-preserved specimen into a skeletal specimen, although the skeleton is 
still maintained thereafter in fluid. Cleared and stained specimens have been important 
in studies of growth and development (Olson 1973, Burke & Feduccia 1997) and in 
as yet unpublished studies of the systematics of hummingbirds (R. L. Zusi in prep.). 

Moreover, it must not be forgotten that, because study skins still contain many of 
the more diagnostic bones of the avian skeleton, skin collections may become a 
major source of skeletal material. This is especially useful for extinct species for 
which no skeletons were ever saved. Methods have been developed where the skull 
and limb bones can be carefully removed from skins with little or no loss of the 
scientific value of the study skin itself, yet allowing great gains in knowledge of 
osteology and even myology (Olson et al. 1987). Without such bones extracted from 
skin collections, the study of the fossil avifauna of the Hawaiian Islands, for example, 
would have been significantly impeded (James & Olson 1991, Olson & James 1991). 
Perhaps the best example of the use of this method was the extraction of the skull 
from the unique holotype of the Lanai Hookbill Dysmorodrepanis munroi, after 
which this was once again classed as a valid genus and species rather than as an 
aberrant individual of another species (James et al. 1989). 

Another source of skeletal data from skin specimens is from x-rays, which have 
been used for determining age in songbirds (Rasmussen 1998) as well as for trying 
to determine the origins of particular specimens such those of as rare Hawaiian 
specimens (Olson 1996) or those with fraudulent data (Rasmussen & Collar 1999, 
Rasmussen & Prys-Jones 2003, this volume). 

Although specific research projects have added significantly to world holdings 
of avian skeletons, the growth of skeletal collections has mainly resulted from general 
collecting in which some of the specimens acquired are chosen for preservation as 
skeletons. There is now a generally prevalent modern outlook, or ethic, of specimen 
preparation in museums, that dictates that not all specimens should be made up as 
study skins and that some balance must be struck between the need for skins, skeletons 
and fluid-preserved specimens. Concurrent with this shift has been the emergence 
of an ethic of attempting to obtain maximal information, at least from specimens of 

Starrs L. Olson 32 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

scarcer species. This in turn has given rise to creative new methods of specimen 
preparation that allow for preservation of skin, skeleton and soft parts in different 
states of completeness, along with tissue samples for biochemical studies. 

Another very positive development has been the appearance of world skeletal 
inventories (Wood et al. 1982, Wood & Schnell 1986), which have provided a great 
stimulant to the enhancement of skeletal collections. These inventories have provided 
a rather shocking picture of just how deficient the museum collections of the world 
are in species represented by non-skin preparations. Field collectors have been able 
to consult these inventories prior to or during expeditions to determine where gaps 
in holdings could be filled. Knowing in the field that no osteological material exists 
for a given species has more than once provided the incentive for preparing a specimen 
as a skeleton rather than a skin. 

Nevertheless, I have detected a few hints of a slight backlash regarding skeletal 
preparation among those I solicited for information. One collections manager 
considered that the strong reputation of the skeleton collection at his institution had 
caused specimens to be prepared as skeletons that should have been made as skins 
or alcoholics. At another museum, concern was expressed that far less use was being 
made of the skeleton collection, compared with tissues or skins, which called into 
question the value of expending so much effort on skeletal preparation. Nevertheless, 
it is clear that a much healthier balance now exists in most major museums in regard 
to manner of specimen preparation. 

Recognition must be made of the fact that, in North America, increased emphasis 
on skeletal preparations and the importance of skeletal specimens is in great measure 
due to the influence of the staff of four museums associated with large universities: 
Michigan, Kansas, Florida and California (Berkeley). Each of these museums houses 
large and important collections of bird skeletons and each has a long history of 
active involvement in avian palaeontology and systematics. There are few 
ornithologists in North America who regularly use skeletal specimens in their 
research, or who are now directly responsible for the curation of skeletal collections, 
who did not receive training at or were not in some other way directly influenced by 
these four research institutions. 

The extent to which individual scientists or collectors have influenced the growth 
of skeletal collections varies from institution to institution. Some important 
collections have been formed almost single-handedly, whereas others are the 
cumulative result of generations of effort by staff, students and associates. Conversely, 
individual influence has at times slowed collection growth, as when a curator has no 
interest in studies involving osteology and neither acquires nor prepares skeletal 
specimens. Archaeological departments in museums and universities, particularly 
in Europe, have been responsible for developing numerous smaller collections of 
avian skeletons for use in identifying bone remains from archaeological sites. 

Despite these advances, it is a depressing fact that active field collecting of birds 
is on the wane, being greatly hampered by misplaced sentimentalities and bureaucratic 
impediments. This comes at a time when there still exist many critical deficiencies 

Storrs L. Olson 33 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

in world museum holdings and when habitats, along with their birds, are being 


For information on the skeletal collections at their institutions I am very grateful to: Jon Barlow (Royal 
Ontario Museum, Toronto), Jon Fjeldsa (Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen, Denmark), 
Ned K. Johnson and Carla Cicero (Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley), 
Mary LeCroy (American Museum of Natural History, New York), Craig Ludwig (National Museum of 
Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.), Robert Prys- Jones and Don Smith (Natural 
History Museum, Tring), Mark Robbins (University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Lawrence), 
Sievert Rohwer (Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle), David W. Steadman (Florida 
Museum of Natural History, Gainesville), Van Remsen (Museum of Zoology, Louisiana State University, 
Baton Rouge), and David Willard, (Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago). 

Author's note: This essay was developed as a preliminary draft that was intended to be circulated rather 
widely for comments from curators and users of skeletal collections so that other perspectives might be 
incorporated. It was first submitted for remarks on format and suggestions that might enable better 
conformity with other papers in the symposium; but as no more was heard on the subject I did nothing 
further with it. When it resurfaced three years later, I was asked to allow it to be included, which I have 
done reluctantly, making only very minor changes. I take no responsibility for the fact that the result is 
neither current nor particularly well balanced. 


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American Ornithologists' Union & Oklahoma Biological Survey, Norman, Oklahoma. 
Wood, D. S., & Schnell, G. D. 1 986. Revised world inventory of avian skeletal specimens 1986. American 

Ornithologists' Union, Norman, Oklahoma. 

Address: Storrs L. Olson, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, 
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560, U.S.A. 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

Bradley C. Livezey 35 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Avian spirit collections: 
attitudes, importance and prospects 

by Bradley C. Livezey 


Spirit (fluid-preserved) specimens of birds play a special role in anatomical and systematic 
studies. A literature review and survey of natural history museums reveals that spirit 
collections of birds have undergone a modest, steady increase to compose roughly 2-3% 
of specimens worldwide. However, many problems of representation indicated by the 
Global inventory (Wood et al. 1982a) persist, and current users of spirit specimens often 
encounter additional problems over preservation, provenance and associated data. 
Consensus exists that spirit specimens are informative for phylogenetic investigations 
and are the key source of data regarding functional morphology, that the primary motivation 
for preserving specimens in spirit is to retain maximal information for future investigators, 
and that expertise deriving from the study of anatomical specimens is at greatest risk in 
specimen-based ornithology. Nevertheless, bias persists for the preparation of bird 
specimens as study skins, evidently in response to demand by visitors (including artists) 
to collections, to a high threshold of perceived sufficiency in skin series, and to a parochial 
perspective on the availability of taxa as study skins. Curatorial concerns over preparation, 
storage and study of spirit specimens are evident but generally exert little influence over 
allocational priorities. Recommendations and justifications regarding the preservation of 
bird specimens in spirit are given. 

Introduction: spirit specimens in ornithological research 

Systematic ornithologists work within a subdiscipline dominated increasingly by 
molecular methods (Avise 1996), despite the absence of an empirical justification 
for such a change in analytical priorities (Hillis 1987, Crowe 1988, Swofford 1991, 
Eernisse & Kluge 1993, Novacek 1994, Wiens & Hillis 1996, Lee 1997, Wheeler 
1997). Nonetheless, preserved specimens of birds remain an important resource for 
many types of study, including those based on DNA (McKitrick 1981, Olson 1981, 
Finley 1987, Houde & Braun 1988; contra Ricklefs 1980, Ricklefs & Gill 1980). 
Given the enduring importance of morphological characters in modern systematics 
regardless of taxon (Sanderson et al. 1993), the relevance of museum collections of 
birds is not unexpected, and the view of natural history collections as invaluable 
archives has become increasingly appreciated (Cotterill 1997, Murariu 1997). 

Spirit specimens of birds — also referred to as wet anatomical or fluid-preserved 
specimens — play a special role in a diversity of anatomical and systematic studies 
(Quay 1974, Raikow 1985). Essentially, any ornithological investigation that is based 
in part on aspects of the anatomy of birds exclusive of the integument or skeleton 
(i.e. soft internal tissues) requires samples of fluid-preserved specimens (these can 
involve whole birds, parts, stomachs and contents, tongues, chicks and even unhatched 
embryos, which are hard to preserve any other way), and moreover many osteological 
features are interpretable only through study of the overlying musculature and 

Bradley C. Livezey 36 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

ligaments or the internal organs, including the digestive apparatus and stomach 
contents (Baumel et al. 1993). Recent works incorporating information based on 
dissections of birds include descriptions of the musculature (e.g. Schreiweis 1982, 
Zusi & Bentz 1984, Homberger 1986, Raikow 1993, Weber 1996, Muller & Weber 
1998), functional analyses (e.g. Zusi 1962, Livezey 1990, 1992a,b), studies related 
to pathology (e.g. Cooper et al. 1998), phylogenetic reconstructions based on 
morphological characters (e.g. Raikow 1978, 1987, Prum 1990, 1992, McKitrick 
1991a,b, Livezey 1997, 1998), feeding ecology (e.g. Arizmendi & Ornelas 1990) 
and even shapes of birds (e.g. Hayman 1986). 

However, despite the unique utility of spirit specimens for many aspects of 
ornithological research (for example moult, locomotion, feeding, display and 
systematics), such material remains comparatively rare in museum collections (Peters 
1933, Wood et al. 1982a,b, Zusi et al 1982, Wood & Schnell 1986, Raikow 1985). 
A number of surveys of ornithological collections have documented that spirit 
specimens are less abundant than skeletons and much less abundant than traditional 
skin specimens (Banks et al. 1973, Clench et al. 1976). Raikow (1985: 119) noted 
that the survey by Banks et al (1973) revealed that museums in North America hold 
'...over 4 million avian study skins, but only 142,150 skeletons, and a bare 52,025 
spirit specimens'. This observation indicates that the ratio of the three major classes 
of specimen in the survey by Banks etal (1973) approximated 77 skins: 3 skeletons: 
1 spirit specimen. 

A fortuitous outcome of the rarity of anatomical specimens is the publication of 
inventories of spirit and (to a lesser degree) skeletal specimens in a number of 
museums (Ames & Stickney 1968, Blandamer & Burton 1979, Gillette & Bartle 
1982), an exercise evidently prompted as much by the tractability of holdings as by 
the priority accorded the specimens themselves. The importance of the manageably 
small numbers of spirit specimens to the compilation of inventories is reflected by 
the fact that a global inventory of avian skin specimens remains years away (largely 
because many skin collections remain uncomputerised), whereas such inventories 
for skeletal and spirit specimens were completed roughly 15 years ago (Wood et al 
1982a,b, Wood & Schnell 1986). A review of such inventories or a personal visit to 
a natural history collection substantiates a commonly held perception among museum 
ornithologists: whereas skin specimens generally are available in substantial series 
in many collections, skeletons and (especially) spirit specimens are much rarer for a 
given taxon, if available at all (Raikow 1985). 

Moreover, investigators often discover that those spirit specimens that are 
available are often damaged or derive from captive populations or are accompanied 
by limited or no associated data. Conventional wisdom holds that the disparate 
proportions and diverse quality of study skins, skeletons and spirit specimens result 
from a widespread curatorial tradition of allocating wild-taken specimens having 
detailed associated data to collections of study skins, whereas damaged specimens 
of captive origin and/or with poor documentation are allocated for preparation as 
skeletons or spirit specimens (Raikow 1985). 

Bradley C. Livezey 37 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

An unfortunate reality of curation is that collections of vertebrates are 
comparatively costly to acquire and maintain (Blackmore et al. 1997). Moreover, 
the relegation of spirit specimens to a lower priority than that accorded traditional 
skin specimens or prepared skeletons is to some degree understandable, given several 
curatorial and investigational characteristics of spirit specimens. First, spirit 
specimens typically entail the use of formalin for fixation and ethanol for storage; 
the former is a toxic, unpleasant substance with which to work, and the latter is 
often legally controlled, can be contaminated by trace amounts of toxic substances 
(e.g. methanol) and may be combustible under certain circumstances. Second, spirit 
(fluid-preserved) specimens are often comparatively massive, and their storage can 
pose special challenges for older museums not designed to meet the associated weight- 
bearing requirements. Third, fluid-preserved specimens are typically stored in glass 
containers subject to breakage and, regardless of the quality or nature of the containers 
used, ethanol is virtually certain to leak from the storage containers over time; such 
collections therefore require constant monitoring to prevent infection by mould or 
desiccation of specimens. Fourth, many anatomists consider fluid-preserved 
specimens to be aesthetically unattractive and difficult to study; moreover, those 
investigators who are willing to handle spirit specimens must overcome the curatorial 
hurdles that accompany (reasonably enough) the typically destructive impact of 
empirical methods usually employed with spirit specimens, a condition exacerbated 
by the rarity of many taxa in spirit collections. Other concerns about spirit collections 
include fire risks, sheer cost of glass jars, handling weights, availability of expertise 
with respect to the use of labels and inks and the sealing of jars, and sheer curation 
time (confirming, tracking and maintaining data on spirit specimens is, owing to 
problems with labelling, significantly more complex and time-consuming than 
equivalent work with skeletons, eggs, mounts or skins). 

Consequently, ornithologists seeking spirit specimens for study are faced by 
considerable limitations in number, substandard quality in much of the scarce material 
available, and comparatively stringent conditions on access, which in combination 
often result in a given taxon not being represented, worldwide, by a single suitable 
fluid-preserved specimen. What is the severity of this problem for modern 
systematists — is the scarcity of spirit specimens at the outset of the twenty-first 
century as serious as indicated by the landmark surveys of Peters (1933), Banks et 
al (1973), Wood et al (1982a,b), Wood & Schnell (1986), and Rogers (1986)? 
Moreover, what are the priorities of curatorial professionals with respect to the method 
of preparation and preservation of birds specimens? Finally, what are the likely 
impacts of current curatorial attitudes on the quality and diversity of avian spirit 
specimens that will be available for future study? 

The objectives of this study were several: (1) to review selected, prevalent 
opinions bearing on spirit (anatomical) specimens of birds; (2) to summarise historical 
trends in collections of spirit specimens based on published inventories and a new 
survey based on questionnaires; (3) to summarise curatorial attitudes regarding spirit 
specimens based on this same survey; and (4) to discuss the likely impacts of these 

Bradley C. Uvezey 38 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123A 

perspectives, trends and attitudes on avian spirit specimens and the investigations 
thai require them. 



In the second quarter of 1999, 1 mailed questionnaires comprising 27 questions (see 
Appendix), with covering letters, to 50 North American and European institutions 
having significant ornithological collections. Addresses and curators of these 
collections were taken from the lists of institutions provided by Wood et al. ( 1 982a,b) 
and Wood & Schnell (1986), as updated by the mailing list used in the unpublished 
survey conducted by Rogers (1986). By the deadline specified, responses were 
received from 29 institutions, to which I added my own completed questionnaire for 
the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Most of the returned questionnaires were 
fully completed (all questions answered as instructed); a minority included one or 
more unanswered questions, but no more than four questions were returned without 
a response. 

Acronyms used for major institutions were as follows: American Museum of 
Natural History, New York (AMNH), Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (CMNH), U.S. National Museum of Natural History, 
Washington, D.C. (USNM), Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of 
California (MVZ), and the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan, Ann 
Arbor (UMMZ). 

Protocols for summarising responses 

Most of the questions included in the survey consisted of multiple (3-10) alternative 
responses; typically, the respondents were asked to rank the responses from most 
appropriate (to be assigned a '1') to least appropriate (to be assigned the largest 
integer required), and indicating 'ties' by assigning the same integer rank to the 
responses deemed of equal relevance. As is conventional in such exercises, tied 
alternatives were all weighted by the median value of the ranks included in the ties. 
A minority of questions simply asked respondents to indicate without ranking which, 
if any, of the alternatives listed were applicable in their experience. Finally, a few 
questions asked for tallies of selected variables for each collection surveyed (e.g. 
current numbers of specimens by class of preparation). 

In the oral presentation of this paper, most of the responses were displayed in 
summary pie-charts or histograms. Pie-charts were used to display overall preferences 
indicated for questions requiring ranking of alternative responses; in order to associate 
the responses receiving highest preference with the largest portion of the pie-chart, 
the total scores for each alternative were transformed into the inverse proportion of 
the grand total for the question. Simple counts (unranked) were presented as 
histograms or tables. In this written account, with considerations of space at a 
premium, I tabulate the mean scores for questions incorporating information on 

Bradley C. Livezey 39 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

ranks (highlighting the most favoured alternative in boldface). Simple tallies, as in 
the oral presentation, are compiled as such. This simplistic approach to summarising 
the data emphasises only the clearest findings suggested by the comparatively meagre 
sample of museums, and avoids the over-interpretation of minor differences which 
cannot be considered robust in what must be regarded as only a preliminary study. 


Growth of collections 

A summary of tallies of skin, skeletal and spirit specimens of bird based on published 
surveys (Peters 1933, Banks et al. 1973, Wood et al. 1982a,b, Wood & Schnell 
1986), an unpublished survey by Rogers (1986), and the present survey (questions 
19-21) revealed that, despite an enduring, significant predominance of skin specimens 
in ornithological collections, the proportions of skeletal and spirit specimens have 
undergone a modest but steady increase (Table 1). Thus the approximate proportions 
of skin, skeletal and spirit specimens, respectively, changed from 192:2:1 in 1933 to 
70:3:1 in 1973 to 34:2:1 in 1986 and to 36:2:1 in 1999. In other words, during 1933- 
1999, the proportions of the three types of specimen changed as follows: skins 
declined from > 99% to ~ 93%; skeletons increased from -1% to -5%; and spirit 
specimens increased modestly from <1% to ~ 2%. 

These general patterns, however, obscure differences among major museums 
(Table 2). Although most major collections underwent a primary period of growth 
during 1933-1973, the proportions of the three major classes of specimen showed 
different trajectories (Table 2): AMNH showed virtually no growth in collections 
other than skins until the last decade or so, and this increase emphasised skeletal 
holdings; ornithological collections at UMMZ, MVZ and CMNH manifested an 
early plateau in numbers of study skins, with steady increases in skeletal and spirit 
specimens; and USNM showed essentially uniform increases in all three classes of 
specimens, although the rate of increase of skin specimens was distinctly, uniformly 


Numbers (%) of avian specimens in major collections by class of specimen and year of survey, 

based on Peters (1933), Banks et al. (1975), Wood & Schnell (1986) plus 

Rogers (1986), and the present study 

Year of survey (number of institutions sampled) 

Class of specimen 

1933 (16) 

1973 (29) 

1986 (32) 

1999 (30) 


1,757,625 (98.7%) 

3,363,350 (94.9%) 


4,633,495 (91.7%) 


14,654 (0.8%) 

132,855 (3.7%) 

232,786 (6.2%) 

289,903 (5.7%) 


9,175 (0.5%) 

47,785 (1.3%) 

101,071 (2.7%) 

128,732 (2.5%) 






Bradley C. Livezey 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


Numbers of specimens of bird preserved as skins, skeletons and spirit specimens in five major North 

American collections in four different twentieth-century surveys, based on Peters (1933), Banks et al. 

(1975), Wood & Schnell (1986) plus Rogers (1986), and the present study 

Class of 

Year of 








American Museum of Natural History 
















U. S. National Museum of Natural History 
















Carnegie Museum of Natural History 














Univ. California, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology 














University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology 
















Priorities of allocation 

The majority of questions put to respondents concerned their perceptions of the use, 
potential informativeness and curatorial relevance of the various classes of 
preparations of avian specimens in museum collections. The primary objective of 
these questions was to gain insight into the motivation behind the critical decisions 
over the form of preparation or preservation to be allocated to new and important 
specimens. Limited redundancy of questions was intentional, as a means of 
confirming any patterns in attitudes that might emerge, and of limiting errors of 
interpretation stemming from single opportunities to reveal opinions. 

Below, I summarise the responses to questions pertaining to the criteria and 
considerations that relate to allocation of new specimens to skin, skeletal or spirit 
preparations (Table 3). See the Appendix for full text of questions and alternative 
responses as provided to respondents. 

Question 1 . — New, valuable specimens made available for accession as scientific 
specimens were roughly twice as likely to be prepared as study skins as either skeletal 
or spirit specimens, the latter two options being approximately equal in preference. 

Question 2. — Roughly half of the respondents consult both Global inventories 
(Wood et al. 1 982a,b, Wood & Schnell 1 986) when allocating specimens. Almost as 
many consult neither, and a small number refer only to the skeletal inventory on a 
regular basis for allocation of new specimens. 

Bradley C. Livezey 41 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Question 3. — Of the alternative reasons for allocating a specimen for preparation 
as a study skin, the popularity of skin specimens with visitors was the most favoured 
response. Of the other seven justifications offered, none won a clear designation as 
second-most preferred. 

Question 4. — Of the alternative reasons for allocating a specimen for preparation 
as a skeleton, the condition of the specimen was ranked the most important 
consideration. Comments by respondents and informal discussions with colleagues 
indicate that the criterion of 'condition' in this context typically implies that specimens 
in poor condition (freezer-damaged, spoiled before freezing, poor condition of 
plumage or incomplete associated data) were more likely to be relegated to the 
skeleton collection than were specimens in good condition. Of the other seven 
justifications offered, none won a clear designation as second-most preferred. 


Summary of scores of responses to questionnaire (Appendix); responses to questions in which 

alternatives were assigned ranks are summarised by the mean ranks reported (entries indicating 

strongest support are in boldface), whereas responses to questions asking that one or more 

alternatives be checked if appropriate (marked by *) are summarised as the total number of positive 

responses received (30 respondents, although some individuals declined to answer one or more 
questions); numbers of questions not amenable to numerical scores are enclosed by square brackets. 

Summary score by response 

Question abcdefghij 

I. 1.3 2.1 2.6 — — — — — — — 

2*. 13 4 2 12 — — — — — 

3. 4.6 5.5 5.1 2.0 3.7 4.3 4.0 6.9 — — 

4. 3.9 5.1 5.1 3.7 2.5 4.9 3.7 7.1 — — 

5. 1.5 3.8 5.3 5.1 3.9 5.5 3.9 7.0 

6. 6.1 3.6 2.2 4.2 4.7 5.1 2.1 — — — 
7*. 9 5 14 1 1 - — — — — 
8. 5.4 3.6 4.0 5.7 2.4 6.2 8.3 6.6 6.0 6.7 
9*. 7 3 16 11 3 22 19 

10. 2.5 2.9 2.0 3.1 3.8 — — — — — 

II. 2.3 1.9 1.2 _____ _ 

12. 2.2 2.4 3.0 2.4 — — — — — — 

13. 3.5 2.8 2.3 1.3 — — — — — — 

14. 2.9 1.9 1.2 — — — — — — — 

15* 20 18 15 14 14 — — — — — 

16*. 5 7 8 7 4 — — — — — 

17*. 12 4 6 5 — — — — — 

18. 2.3 2.7 4.3 4.3 2.4 5.0 — — — — 

[19_21]. __________ 

22*. 1 17 12 — — — — — — — 

23*. 9 18 2 _______ 

[24-27]. __________ 

Bradley C. Uvezey 42 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Question 5. — Of the alternative reasons for allocating a specimen for preparation 
as a spirit specimen, the preservation of maximal information was ranked as the 
most important consideration. As in the corresponding questions for skin and skeletal 
specimens, none of the other seven justifications offered emerged as the second- 
most preferred. 

Question 6. — Of the reasons perceived to account for the comparative rarity of 
spirit specimens in ornithological collections, curatorial traditions and low demand 
for study were ranked as the most plausible (Table 3). 

Question 7. — Of the four cited classes of curatorial staff, or combinations thereof, 
the ranked responses indicated that the staff member most frequently responsible 
for allocation of new specimens is the collection manager. It should be noted in this 
context that budgetary limitations in some museums have shifted most or all curatorial 
duties from curators (if any) to support staff, notably collection managers, and that 
the importance of collection managers in this critical decision may reflect, in part, 
the dictates of logistics instead of genuine, administrative preference. Insights into 
such staffing issues largely derived from responses to questions 24-27 of the survey. 

Question 8. — Of the ten alternative justifications for a hypothetical increase in 
holdings of spirit specimens in the coming years, respondents ranked the preservation 
of the entire specimen for posterity as the most persuasive. Ranks given other options 
were very close, forming a virtual continuum of scores, and precluded further 
designation of relative preferences. 

Question 9. — Of possible preparations to be applied to an exceptionally rare and 
valuable specimen, respondents favoured the preservation of the specimens as a 
study skin with partial skeleton', conservation as a skull-less skin ('schmoo') and 
partial skeleton, or as an entire skin specimen, emerged as second and third 
preferences, respectively. However, 19 of 22 respondents also indicated an intention 
to retain, in addition to the various preparations of skins and skeletons, organs in 
spirit or frozen tissues. Allocations of the hypothetical 'voucher' specimen either as 
a full skeleton or complete spirit specimen were the least favoured of the alternatives 

Question 10. — The primary reason underlying current allocations of new 
specimens at the institutions of the respondents was the availability of the taxon in 
their own collections (i.e. 'local' representation). This preference was comparatively 
weakly indicated, however, as the other four alternatives listed received moderately 
strong support. 

Question 22. — Increasingly, combination-preparations of specimens are being 
used to preserve more and diverse data from valuable specimens of birds. This 
question revealed that a majority of respondents oversee the preparation of study 
skins and partial skeletons at least infrequently, although most categorised these 
efforts as occurring 'rarely' as opposed to 'routinely.' Only a single respondent 
indicated that such dual preparations were never performed. 

Question 23. — In parallel with the preceding question, respondents were polled 
as to the preparation of a second variation of dual preparation — study skin with 

Bradley C. Livezey 43 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

partial spirit specimen. In this case, the majority 'rarely' supervised such 
combinations, with almost one-third indicating that such preparations 'never' 
occurred; only two respondents characterised such preparations as 'routine'. 

Importance of specimens 

Several questions were intended to assess the perceptions of respondents concerning 
the relative importance of study skins, skeletons and spirit specimens for 
ornithological research. It was hoped that these questions would transcend current 
practices and patterns of use, and provide insights into underlying motivations, the 
potential informativeness of specimens and the impact of curatorial trends and current 
holdings on selected areas of expertise and future research. 

Question 11. — Of three areas of anatomical expertise — those pertaining to the 
externum, skeleton or soft (internal) anatomy — internal anatomy was ranked most 
heavily as the subdiscipline undergoing a decline in recent decades (Table 3); the 
other two options received substantially less support. Although the majority of 
respondents implicitly agreed with the presumption that declines in expertise were 
evident across anatomical systems, the unintended bias reflected in the question 
may have distorted the responses. It is noted, however, that two respondents opposed 
this pessimistic assessment, and commented that they perceived increases in expertise 
in all three anatomical areas. 

Question 12. — Respondents were asked to rank four sources of data — study skins, 
skeletons, spirit specimens and genetic material — based on their view of the role 
these have played in our present understanding of avian phylogeny. Responses 
indicated essentially a four-way tie in this assessment, with a slight preference 
indicated for the contribution of study skins (Table 3). The most valuable service of 
this ambiguous outcome is the provision of a benchmark against which responses to 
the following, predictive counterpart (question 13) could be viewed. 

Question 13. — With respect to the four sources of information listed above, 
respondents considered genetic material to hold the greatest promise for future 
insights into avian phylogeny; the other three options divided the remaining support 
approximately equally (Table 3). 

Question 14. — Respondents considered spirit specimens to be approximately 
twice as important as either study skins or skeletons for an understanding of the 
functional anatomy of birds (Table 3). 

Curatorial concerns 

Four questions concerned comparatively practical aspects of the curation and use of 
spirit specimens. These were included to assess the potential for such concerns to 
deter curatorial staff members from allocating new specimens to fluid-preserved 

Question 15. — Several frequently cited issues attending spirit specimens — 
including toxicity of formalin, combustibility of ethanol, breakage of glass containers, 

Bradley C. Livezey 44 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

excessive weight of collections — were accorded equal weight by respondents (Table 
3). Under 'other', several respondents listed failure of seals on containers and the 
likelihood that ethanol would escape and permit desiccation of the specimens. 

Question 1 6. — Of the various accidents that can occur in the preparation or study 
of spirit specimens, eight respondents listed lacerations with dissection or injection 
equipment, seven listed excessive exposure to ethanol or formalin (by inhalation 
and/or spillage), five reported cuts on broken glass, and four indicated other mishaps 
(Table 3). 

Question 17. — Although the combustibility of ethanol in collections of spirit 
specimens has not been confirmed as a significant problem, there is a widespread 
perception that this risk exists. Accordingly, local fire codes in many regions impose 
special conditions for the storage of such specimens. This question indicated that 
roughly half of the respondents considered that their material was held in full 
compliance with fire codes, whereas the remaining respondents were approximately 
equally divided among the other three options (partial compliance, non-compliance 
or no information). 

Question 18. — Access to specimens and the information these contain is of 
considerable scientific and ethical concern (Hoagland 1997). Given the destructive 
nature of most forms of study of spirit specimens (notably dissection), curators have 
increasingly been compelled to devise conditions or criteria for the approval of access 
or loans to investigators. Of the six alternatives provided, three choices (taxa involved, 
method of study, and experience of investigator) received slightly greater support 
than the other options (Table 3). 


Overview of responses 

Data from several published surveys, an unpublished work by Rogers (1986), and 
the present survey indicate a steady but slow increase in the relative numbers of 
spirit specimens during the twentieth century (Table 1). Despite this trend, spirit 
specimens currently comprise only 2-3% of specimens held in ornithological 
collections surveyed. This situation appears unlikely to be reversed in the near future, 
as responses to the survey revealed that those responsible for allocation and 
preparation remain predisposed to prepare prime specimens as study skins. A 
substantial number of respondents prefer to preserve a critical specimen as a study 
skin and in various other forms (most frequently as a partial skeleton and frozen 

The continuing preference for study skins stems primarily from the frequency 
with which the current, varied users of collections (including artists and other non- 
technical users) refer to these specimens. Also important to allocation decisions is a 
persistent, somewhat antiquated concern regarding the representation of the taxon 
in question as a skin specimen in the local collection, as opposed to basing decisions 
on global needs across all major types of specimen (e.g. as given by the Global 

Bradley C. Livezey 45 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

inventories). Other concerns pertaining to collections of bird specimens in spirit — 
excessive weight, dangers of desiccation, and risks related to fire, toxic substances, 
or 'sharps' (sharp-edged or -pointed instruments) — appear to be comparatively minor 
impediments to the growth of spirit collections. 

Contradictory attitudes and practices 

Perhaps most remarkable was the contrast in motivations for preparing a specimen 
as a study skin, skeleton or spirit specimen, and associated estimates of the potential 
value of the three classes of preparation. Study skins were favoured because this 
form of preparation was in the highest demand among current users. Skeletons were 
favoured where condition of the specimen was a concern. Spirit specimens were 
chosen most frequently when the intention was to conserve the maximal amount of 
information for future study. 

All three major types of avian specimen were credited with approximately equal 
impact on our present understanding of avian phylogeny as genetic material, but the 
last was accorded a significantly greater role than all three traditional preparations 
in furnishing insights into avian phylogenetics in the coming years. Nonetheless, 
spirit specimens were valued at least as much as the more abundant skeletal collections 
held by museums, and spirit specimens were valued significantly more than all other 
sources of information for studies of functional anatomy. 

When viewed as a form of 'avian archive', there appears to be a conflict between 
the perceived value of spirit specimens and the propensity of curators to allocate 
new specimens for preservation in fluid. Generally, spirit specimens are 
acknowledged to preserve the maximal amount of anatomical information, and 
collections of spirit specimens are considered critical resources for phylogenetics 
and unsurpassed sources of information on functional anatomy. Furthermore, there 
was a general consensus that the anatomical expertise at highest risk in ornithology 
is that most dependent on the availability and study of spirit specimens. However, 
when faced with the opportunity to add to this valuable resource, curatorial personnel 
persist in a long-standing tradition of filling deficiencies in local skin collections, 
and turning to skeletal or (least frequently) to spirit collections only when this primary 
concern is appeased or the condition of the specimen renders it undesirable for this 

Recommendations for the twenty-first century 

Availability and quality of specimens in ornithological collections to a substantial 
degree dictate the course of specimen-based research to be undertaken by future 
investigators. Extensive new collections to serve an individual investigator are 
becoming increasingly difficult to justify or accomplish, and most specimen-based 
studies are designed in part based on the current availability of requisite material in 
the museums of the world. Unfortunately, this global perspective on holdings often 
is not shared by those who determine the fates of new specimens in ornithological 

Bradley C. Uvezey 46 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

collections, where parochial and seemingly insatiable preferences for skin specimens 
persist in a significant number of (especially smaller) museums. Spirit specimens 
arc uniquely informative for a number of critical aspects of ornithology (e.g. 
ph\ logenetics, functional morphology and ontogeny), a need intensified by the fact 
that stud) of spirit specimens often entails various degrees of destruction (i.e. spirit 
specimens, like frozen tissues, are consumable). 

Accordingly, I recommend that those who are empowered to allocate incoming 
specimens to various preparations do so as to: 

( 1 ) niinimise what is discarded during the preparation of specimens by storing 
specimens material in multiple ways (see, e.g., Eames et al. 2002); 

(2 ) serve future investigators at least as much as current users; 

(3) preserve maximal information, perhaps best achieved through preservation of a 
spirit specimen, frozen tissue samples and digital photographs of the fresh 

(4) complement global as opposed to local deficiencies in holdings (cosmopolitan 
perspectives being appropriate for a future in which museums will be increasingly 
connected by electronic media); and 

(5) create uniquely valuable collections not attainable by other means, e.g. 
ontogenetic series in spirit, and special preparations to facilitate the study of 
challenging organ systems or tissues. 


1 thank R. P. Prys-Jones for the invitation to speak on the importance and status of spirit specimens for 
ornithology, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) for funding my attendance at the 
symposium. I also benefited from many discussions with R. L. Zusi (USNM) concerning spirit specimens 
and their unique importance to the study of functional anatomy and systematics of birds, and for a 
number of informative exchanges with F. D. Steinheimer (BMNH) regarding the methods and challenges 
of upgrading the storage of historically important spirit specimens in his care (and also for helpful 
referee's comments on the manuscript). I also am grateful for the able assistance and sharing of 
unpublished data by several of my colleagues at CMNH: S. Rogers, R. Panza, and M. A. Schmidt. 
Finally. I owe a debt of gratitude for the provision of completed questionnaires from the following 
individuals and institutions (listed by alphabetical order of [first] surname), without which this paper 
would not have been possible: K. A. Arnold (Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collections, Texas A & M 
University, College Station), G. F Barrowclough (American Museum of Natural History, New York), Z. 
Bochenski (Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow), W. Boles (Australian Museum, Sydney), T Cassidy 
and A. Kemp (Natural History [Transvaal] Museum, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa), P. W. Collins 
(Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, California), D. Drikrow (South African 
Museum, Cape Town), C. T Fisher (Merseyside County Museums, Liverpool), K. L. Garrett (Natural 
History Museum of Los Angeles County, California), B. J. Gill (Auckland Museum and Museum, 
Auckland. New Zealand), M. Gosselin (Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Ontario), G. R. Graves 
( National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.), J. C. Hafner (Moore 
Laboratory of Zoology, Occidental College, Los Angeles, California), G. K. Hess (Delaware Museum of 
Natural History, Greenville), J. Hudon (Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton), N. K. Johnson and 
( Cicero (Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley), L. Joseph (Academy of 
Natural Sciences. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), C. Lefevre and E. Pasquet (Museum National d'Histoire 
Naturcllc. Paris). G. Lenglet (Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, Brussels), M. Louette 
(Royal Museum lor Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium), G. Mayr (Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, 

Bradley C. Livezey 47 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Frankfurt, Germany), R. O'Brien (Museum of Victoria, Abbotsford, Australia), R. B. Payne (Museum 
of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), M. Penck (South Australian Museum, Adelaide), R. P. 
Prys-Jones and F. D. Steinheimer (Natural History Museum, Tring, United Kingdom), J. Rainbird and 
B. Smith (Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania), J. V Remsen (Museum of 
Natural Science, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge), S. Rohwer (Burke Museum, University of 
Washington, Seattle), D. E. Willard and J. M. Bates (Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois), 
and the staff of the Museum of Natural History, Oxford University. 


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Address: B. C. Livezey, Section of Birds, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Avenue, 
Pittsburgh, PA 15213, U.S.A. email 

Questionnaire regarding avian spirit collections 

Instructions regarding ranking. — If possible, use the integer ranking recommended parenthetically in 
each question in your responses. In the event that you feel that two or more options merit the same rank, 
then assign them the same integer value; e.g. for four alternatives in which two options are considered to 
have equal, intermediate ranks, then the integers assigned would be 1, 2, 2, 3. If you consider any option 
to be completely irrelevant to a particular issue, assign it a rank of zero. 

1 . Please indicate the normal priority assigned to the three classes of preparation in your institution for 
a single, newly acquired and valuable specimen of bird (e.g. new distributional record, representative 
of endangered species) (1 = highest; 2 = intermediate; 3 = lowest): (a) skin; (b) skeleton; (c) spirit. 

2. Do you or your staff consult the World inventory of avian spirit specimens (Wood et al. 1982) or the 
Revised world inventory of avian skeletal specimens (Wood & Schnell 1986) in allocating specimens 
for preparation? (a) yes, I consult both inventories; (b) yes, but I only consult the spirit inventory; 

(c) yes, but I only consult the skeleton inventory; (d) no, I do not consult either inventory. 

3 . Please rank the following rationales to the extent that you are in agreement with them as justifications 
for allocation a critical specimen to be prepared as a study skin. (Please rank as '1' the rationale 
with which you are in strongest agreement, '2' for next-most important reason listed, etc., with '8' 
being used for the reason you find least compelling): (a) preparation preserves the maximal amount 
of anatomical information; (b) preparation is easiest to prepare; (c) preparation is easiest to curate; 

(d) preparation is sought most frequently by ornithologists using collection; (e) preparation is most 
appropriate given the condition of the specimen; (f) preparation conforms to the primary form 
curated at the facility; (g) preparation is of greatest interest or utility to the individual making the 

Bradley C. Livezey 50 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

allocation or to his/her colleague(s); (h) preparation is a condition of acceptance imposed by collector 

Or donor. 

4. Please rank the follow ing rationales to the extent that you are in agreement with them as justifications 
for allocation a critical specimen to be prepared as a skeletal specimen. Same instructions and 
options as in Question 3. 

5. Please rank the following rationales to the extent that yon ore in agreement with them as justifications 
for allocation a critical specimen to be prepared as a spirit specimen. Same instructions and options 
as m Question 3. 

6. Please rank the following possible explanations for the relative rarity of spirit specimens in global 
ornithological collections (1 = most plausible, etc.): (a) spirit specimens retain the least amount of 
readily usable information; (b) spirit specimens are comparatively difficult, unpleasant or expensive 
to prepare and curate; (c) spirit specimens are only infrequently sought by ornithologists; (d) spirit 
specimens are messy to examine; (e) spirit specimens require very technical training to study properly; 
1 1 ) spirit specimens suffer damage if dissected, and therefore curators are comparatively restrictive 
regarding access; (g) study skins were strongly favoured as specimens during much of the twentieth 
century in most museums. 

7. In your facility, what is (are) the position(s) of the individual(s) who allocate incoming specimens 
as to form of preparation? (If this process varies, please indicate the most frequent option as "1" and 
the next most frequent as "2", etc.): (a) curator in charge; (b) curators as group; (c) collection 
manager: (d) preparator or technician; (e) other (specify). 

X. Please rank the following motivations for an increase in spirit specimens of birds in your collection 
during the next decade ( 1 = most plausible, . . . , 10 = least plausible): (a) receipt of numerous specimens 
for which there was low interest in alternative preparations; (b) arrival of new staff member or 
nearby colleague with interest in study of spirit specimens; (c) increase in importance of spirit 
specimens in your own research programme; (d) receipt of numerous specimens that were not 
considered suitable for alternative preparations; (e) professional concern for preservation of entire 
specimens for posterity; (f) increased familiarity with procedures for preparation and care of spirit 
specimens; (g) mandate from higher administration; (h) provenance of specimen (i.e. wild-taken or 
captive); (i) completeness of data associated with specimens; (j) indications of disease in the 

9. If your collection was given a fresh specimen of a previously unknown species of bird that is of 
sufficient rarity that it could be assumed that no more specimens would be collected in the future 
(i.e., your specimen is assumed to represent the unique voucher for the species), which of the 
following preparations would you recommend (check [tick] more than one if a combination of 
preparations would be used): (a) study skin; (b) full skeleton; (c) study skin and partial skeleton; (d) 
study skin with skull removed ("schmoo") and partial skeleton; (e) entire spirit specimen; (f) frozen 
tissue specimen(s); (g) internal organs in spirit. 

10. Please rank the following justifications for method of preparation for a newly acquired specimen to 
be added to your collection ( 1 = most important consideration, . . ., 5 = least important): (a) availability/ 
abundance of the taxon as a skin, skeleton or spirit specimen in the museums of the world; (b) 
a\ailability/abundance of the taxon as a skin, skeleton or spirit specimen in the museums of your 
country or continent', (c) availability/abundance of the taxon as a skin, skeleton or spirit specimen 
in your collection: (d) utility of the preparation of the taxon to your own research; (e) preparatory 
skills of you or your staff. 

I I . Please rank the following skills by decline in expertise (regardless of reason) during the last 20 
sears in ornithological institutions worldwide (1 = greatest decline,..., 3 = least decline): (a) 
illustration/technical description of external appearance of birds; (b) identification/classification of 
skeletal elements; (c) description/illustration/comparative study of soft tissues (e.g., musculature, 
internal organs). 

Bradley C. Livezey 51 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

12. Please rank the following four classes of avian specimen by your perception of their importance to 
om present understanding of avian phylogeny (1 = probably most important, etc.): (a) skin specimens; 
(b) skeletons; (c) spirit specimens; (d) genetic material extracted from museum specimens. 

13. Please rank the following four classes of avian specimen by your perception of their importance to 
our future understanding of avian phylogeny (1 = probably most important, etc.): (a) skin specimens; 
(b) skeletons; (c) spirit specimens; (d) genetic material extracted from museum specimens. 

14. Please rank the following three classes of avian specimen by your perception of their importance to 
our understanding of functional anatomy (1 = probably most important, etc.): (a) skin specimens; 
(b) skeletons; (c) spirit specimens. 

15. Please indicate which (if any) of the following concerns are held by you or your staff have regarding 
the preparation and storage of fluid-preserved specimens: (a) toxicity of formalin; (b) combustibility 
of ethanol; (c) risk of breakage of glass jars; (d) weight of collection with respect to structural 
limitations of facility; (e) other (specify). 

16. Please indicate which of the following mishaps (if any) have happened in your facility during the 
preparation and storage of fluid-preserved specimens: (a) staff member or visitor suffered cut from 
broken glass; (b) staff member or visitor suffered from exposure to ethanol or formalin; (c) staff 
member or visitor suffered cut during dissection or injection; (d) staff member or visitor spilled 
significant quantities of ethanol or formalin on him-/herself or clothing; (e) other (specify). 

17. Does your collection of spirit specimens meet local fire and safety codes? (a) yes, completely; (b) 
yes, with following exception(s); (c) no; (d) do not know; (e) there are no applicable codes. 

18. Please rank the criteria considered by you in granting use of spirit specimens by visitors (1 = most 
important, . . ., 6 = least important): (a) taxa involved; (b) nature of dissection intended; (c) outcome 
of prior study by visitor in question; (d) publication record of visitor; (e) reputation/experience of 
visitor with techniques intended; (f) personal familiarity with visitor. 

19. Please provide the total number of skin specimens in your collection (if not sure, please give your 
best estimate and enclose the figure in parentheses). 

20. Please provide the total number of skeletal specimens in your collection (if not sure, please give 
your best estimate and enclose the figure in parentheses). 

21. Please provide the total number of spirit specimens in your collection (if not sure, please give your 
best estimate and enclose the figure in parentheses). 

22. Do you or your staff prepare skin/partial-skeletons? Please check [tick] the most appropriate 
response: (a) no; (b) yes, but rarely; (c) yes, routinely. 

23. Do you or your staff prepare skin/partial-spirits? Please check [tick] the most appropriate response: 
(a) no; (b) yes, but rarely; (c) yes, routinely. 

24. Please indicate the number of staff members who work in the ornithological collection in your 
institution at present (tally in full-time equivalents). 

25. Please indicate the number of years that you have been a professional, museum-based ornithologist. 

26. Please indicate the number of graduate students using museum specimens in their research with 
whom you have been involved professionally during your career. 

27. Please list the top five areas of personal research that involve to a significant extent specimens of 
birds (e.g., geographic variation, functional anatomy, paleontology, illustration). 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

LeHu Chnsudis &JanetU Ann Norman 52 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

DNA and the museum tradition 

by Leslie Christidis & Janette Ann Norman 


DNA analysis is now a cost-effective and routine technique in systematics, taxonomy and 
population biology. Natural history museums need to maintain their relevance to these 
advances by expanding and diversifying their collection holdings. We describe different 
DNA-based techniques, the type of material required, and the most appropriate methods 
of storage. The needs of DNA-based research point the strategic direction for future 
collection development in museums. Traditional specimens (e.g. skins and skeletons) as 
sources of material for DNA-based studies are also discussed. We identify areas of concern 
associated with the use of DNA material for systematic and taxonomic studies, e.g. voucher 
specimens, museum accession numbers and other information standard in morphological 
studies but often lacking in DNA-based analyses. Museums must play a key role in ensuring 
that the necessary specimen information is included in publications. The relationships 
and obligations of museums and the researchers who obtain material from them are 


Museum collections have traditionally been wholly specimen-based. In the case 
of birds these include skins, skeletons and spirit specimens. Such collections have 
been essential to the study of the systematics, evolution, biogeography and 
functional morphology of birds. Skin collections in particular have been important 
in documenting regional variation in avian species. While skins dominate most 
museum avian collections, they are not as adequate as we would like when it 
comes to documenting such things as geographical, age and sex variation (Zusi 
1982, Winker et al. 1996, Schodde & Mason 1999). Skeletal and spirit specimen 
holdings are very small by comparison (Jenkinson & Wood 1985, Livezey 2003, 
Olson 2003). These traditional museum collections are, and will continue to be, 
important resources for evolutionary, biogeographical and systematic studies of 
birds. However, the development of new biological tools means that museums 
need to expand and adapt their scope of holdings in order to continue to be at the 
forefront of relevance for such studies. The most significant developments have 
been in molecular genetics, given the ease with which we can now obtain protein 
allozyme and DNA sequence data for phylogenetic and population studies 
(Richardson et al. 1986, Avise 1994). 

Maintenance of material for genetic studies 

The earliest widely used molecular technique was protein allozyme electrophoresis, 
which required freshly collected tissue samples or blood that was then stored in 
ultra-cold freezers (e.g. Richardson et al. 1986). Proteins degrade relatively rapidly 
when stored in standard freezers (-20°C), and denature when stored in ethanol. 

Leslie Christidis &JanetteAnn Norman 53 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Consequently, the growth of protein electorophoresis as an evolutionary tool started 
the development of ultra-cold tissue banks in universities and museums. 

With the advent of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (Saiki et al. 1988), 
techniques such as direct sequencing of DNA became relatively fast and affordable. 
The tissue banks first established for protein allozyme studies now became just as 
important for DNA sequencing and other DNA based studies. DNA is much more 
robust than proteins and can be obtained from samples stored in ethanol (Houde & 
Braun 1988), buffers (Seutiner al. 1991, Amos &Hoelzel 1991, Arctander & Fjeldsa 
1994), standard freezers, as well as from traditional museum specimens such as 
feathers (Ellegren 1991, Leeton et al. 1993), skin (Thomas et al. 1989), scrapings 
from foot pads (Mundy et al. 1997) and bone (Cooper et al. 1992). 

The ability to use a variety of specimen materials for DNA study has meant that 
natural history museums now need to address the following issues: 

• What sorts of research will in the future require DNA samples? 

• What are the most common and widely applicable molecular techniques relevant 
to museum holdings? 

• What sorts of samples are required for these techniques and how do these relate 
to current museum practices regarding specimen collections? 

• What are the future directions that museums should go down to make their 
collections useful for systematic and evolutionary studies using molecular 

• How can museums use these advances to enhance the information content of 
their existing collections? 

What sorts of research are being conducted using DNA samples? 

One of the appeals of using DNA sequence data to address systematic questions is 
that they can be used at a range of taxonomic levels, from the status of particular 
taxa (e.g. Norman et al. 1998, Alstrom & Olsson 1999, Irwin et al. 2001, Norman et 
al. 2002) through to the systematic relationships between species and genera (e.g. 
Espinosa de los Monteros 1998, Omland et al. 1999, Johnson et al. 2001, Whittingham 
et al. 2002), families (e.g. Moore & DeFilippis 1997, Johnson et al. 2000, Barker et 
al. 2002, Ericson et al. 2002) and orders (e.g. Mindell et al. 1997, Paton et al. 2002). 
These DNA-based approaches should not be viewed as a replacement for 
morphological studies but rather as a complement. Nevertheless, in many cases where 
the systematics were based on characters associated with feeding and locomotion, 
molecular approaches have provided strong evidence that numerous examples of 
convergence had been overlooked (e.g. van Tuinen et al. 2001). As the number of 
nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences used to reconstruct phylogenies increases, 
these will become robust frameworks from which morphological variation can be 
interpreted. Molecular phylogenies combined with comparative approaches (Brooks 
& McLennan 1991, Harvey & Pagel 1991) have been used to trace the evolution of 
features such as breeding behaviour (Poiani & Pagel 1997), sexual dimorphism (Burns 

Leslie Chrisddis &JanetteArm Norman 54 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

1 C ) C )S ). plumage patterns (Espinosa de los Monteros 1998, Omland & Lanyon 2000) 
and ecology (Richman & Price 1992, Richman 1996, Cicero & Johnson 1998). 

Another broad area of DNA-based research focuses on documenting genetic 
variation within species. This includes looking at the taxonomic status of isolated 
populations (e.g. Norman et al. 1998, Irwin et al. 2001), the partitioning of genetic 
variation across the distributional range of species (e.g. Edwards 1993, Rising & 
\\ ise 1993. Baker & Marshall 1997, Mila et al 2000, Liebers et al. 2001) and its 
relationship to conservation (Avise & Nelson 1989, Norman & Christidis 1997, 
Robinson & Matthee 1999, Pestano et al. 2000, Zink et al. 2000). Repetitive DNA 
markers such as multilocus fingerprints and microsatellites can also be used in 
behavioural studies (Burke 1989, Queller et al. 1993, Painter et al. 2000, Semple et 
al 2001, Conrad etal. 2001). 

Comparative genomics is a new and rapidly developing field of research which 
may increasingly rely on museum collections as a source of material. Comparative 
genomics involves the isolation and characterisation of specific genes from different 
organisms in an effort to understand their structure, function, mechanisms of 
regulation and evolution. Although domesticated species have been the major focus 
of research to date, there is increasing interest in studying the genomes of native 
species (Couzin 2002). 

What are the most common and widely applicable molecular techniques? 

The molecular techniques used commonly today in evolutionary and systematic 
studies can be divided into two groups: those that are PCR-based and those that are 
not. These two broad groups relate directly to the types of tissue or specimen material 
that can be used, amount required and preferred method of preservation. 

The most widely used non-PCR techniques have been protein allozyme 
electrophoresis (e.g. Richardson et al. 1986), multi-locus DNA fingerprinting (e.g. 
Jeffreys et al. 1985), and DNA-DNA hybridisation (e.g. Sibley & Ahlquist 1990, 
Sheldon et al. 1995). Here a limited number of tissue sources can be used. For 
example, protein allozyme analysis requires frozen tissues while good-quality DNA 
is required for DNA fingerprinting. 

The most widely used PCR-based techniques are direct sequencing of 
mitochondrial (e.g. Mindell etal. 1997, Paton etal 2002) and nuclear (e.g. Prychitko 
& Moore 1997, Groth & Barrowclough 1999, Barker et al. 2002, Ericson et al 
2002) DNA, and microsatellite analysis (e.g. Queller et al. 1993, Painter et al. 2000, 
Semple et al 2001, Conrad et al. 2001). PCR-based techniques only require small 
amounts of intact or even degraded DNA (Paabo 1 989). Consequently, there is great 
flexibility on the types of material that can be used with such techniques. 

In the new field of comparative genomics the primary demand will be for high- 
quality frozen tissues from which intact DNA and RNA molecules can be isolated. 
RNA is more susceptible to damage than DNA and must be stored under ultra-cold 
conditions. RNA is used to isolate specific gene sequences using reverse-transcriptase 
PCR and to establish gene libraries containing all expressed DNA sequences (i.e. 

Leslie Christidis &JanetteAnn Norman 55 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

those portions of the DNA that encode genes). These are termed Expression Sequence 
Tagged or EST libraries. 

DNA from museum specimens: advantages 

As discussed above, DNA that is suitable for analysis can be obtained from bone, 
feather bases, scrapings of foot pads and pieces of skin from museum specimens. 
The success of this is related to the age of the specimen. The older the specimen the 
more degraded is the DNA (Paabo 1989). However, there is also variation between 
similarly aged specimens. Moreover, from some individuals it almost impossible to 
extract DNA. This might be a reflection of the types of preservatives used (Cooper 
1993). DNA can sometimes be obtained from formalin preserved material (Shibata 
1994), but formalin fixation causes significant sequence alterations (Williams et al. 
1999) which can be misinterpreted as genetic variation. Nevertheless, protocols for 
obtaining good-quality DNA from formalin-fixed specimens are continually being 
developed (e.g. Coombs et al. 1999, Shi et al. 2002). 

DNA studies based on frozen tissue samples can suffer from a lack of coverage 
of species and geographical areas in current collections. The availability of appropriate 
samples has been identified as a severe bottleneck for molecular evolutionary studies 
(Arctander & Fjeldsa 1994, Winker et al. 1996). Omland et al. (1999) pointed out 
the importance of comprehensive species coverage, including subspecies, in 
constructing well-resolved molecular phylogenies. The ability to use existing museum 
skins (e.g. Dumbacher & Fleischer 2001) and skeletons for DNA-based studies (e.g. 
Paxinos et al. 2002, Shapiro et al. 2002) therefore provides an enormous resource in 
terms of species coverage, localities, the number of specimens and temporal sampling. 
Using museum skins is often the only way of working on rare, endangered (Norman 
& Christidis 1997) or extinct (Christidis et al. 1996) species. Instead of leaving out 
such critical species, museum skins allow their inclusion in molecular phylogenetic 

Museum collections also provide an historical perspective, as the specimen series 
from some regions can span decades. Such temporal series can be used to investigate 
the onset and impact of recent hybridisation events, range expansions and 
contractions, and allow us to investigate temporal variation in levels of genetic 
diversity (e.g. Thomas et al. 1990, Lambert et al. 2002, Paxinos et al 2002). 

DNA from museum specimens: disadvantages 

Despite the advantages of coverage provided by existing skin and skeletal collections, 
there are several limitations and problems associated with only using such material 
for DNA studies. 

The most obvious concern is that such sampling requires the removal of feathers, 
skin or other material from fragile and valuable specimens (Graves & Braun 1992). 
It is a form of destructive specimen sampling. While this may not be a problem for 
common species where numerous specimens will exist in collections, it will be of 

Leslie ChrisfkUs &JanetteAnn Norman 56 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

concern when rare, extinct or unique material is sampled. Furthermore, it is with 
these latter taxa that tissue material will most probably be unavailable and taxonomic 
or evolutionary questions will exist. Consequently, it is on such valuable specimens 
that most pressure will be placed (Graves & Braun 1992). 

Another problem with using museum specimens relates to the quality of the 
DNA obtained. DNA from museum skins and skeletons is degraded (Paabo et al. 
1 989, Handt et al. 1994). Therefore, the DNA fragments that can be amplified using 
PCR will often be small, around 200 base pairs or fewer (Handt et al. 1994). From 
fresh material it is possible routinely to amplify fragments of 1,000 to 2,000 base 
pairs. Another limitation of using museum skins and skeletons is that only relatively 
small amounts of DNA can be obtained. Both these factors will increase the time 
and costs of a DNA study. With the relatively small amounts of DNA that will be 
obtained there will be a limit as to the number of PCR reactions that can be performed 
from any one extraction. 

There are also age-related artefacts where post-mortem changes in the DNA can 
be misinterpreted as genetic variation. This is most likely to be a problem when 
analysing microsatellites (Gagneux et al. 1997). 

A bigger concern with using museum skins and skeletons for DNA study is 
ensuring that the correct genome is being sampled. There are two problems here. 
The first is contamination. Because only small amounts of degraded DNA will be 
obtained from museum specimens there is a greater risk that extraneous DNA from 
other sources will be preferentially amplified (Handt et al. 1994). Controls and 
stringent laboratory techniques are critical to avoiding contamination in such studies. 

The second problem, harder to control, is validation of the sequences. Most 
phylogenetic studies concentrate on the rapidly evolving mitochondrial genome 
(Avise 1994). However, it is now well established that multiple copies of 
mitochondrial genes can exist in the nuclear genome (Sorenson & Quinn 1998, 
Nielsen & Arctander 2001). Using PCR there is always the possibility that a nuclear 
copy of a mitochondrial gene will be amplified instead. Comparing a mixture of 
mitochondrial and nuclear sequences in a phylogenetic analysis will lead to highly 
misleading results (e.g. Arctander 1995). 

With frozen tissue samples it is possible to purify mitochondrial DNA (Tamura 
& Aotsuka 1988), thereby decreasing the chance of amplifying nuclear copies of 
mitochondrial genes. Unfortunately, this is not possible with museum skins given 
the degraded nature of the DNA. One approach is to obtain sequences from purified 
mitochondrial DNA and from total DNA extracted from museum skins for the same 
species, and then compare the two to confirm that similar sequences are being obtained 
from both DNA sources (e.g. Norman et al. 1998). 

Museums and tissue collections 

It is clear from the previous discussion that traditional skin and skeletal collections 
alone are not sufficient for DNA-based evolutionary studies. These collections should 
be seen as a supplement to continued tissue bank development. Even so, museums 

Leslie Christidis &JanetteAnn Norman 57 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

are generally the most appropriate institutions for establishing specialist tissue 

collections. They have the expertise and facilities for long-term taxonomic research, 

collection and data management, and are often the official regional faunal repositories. 

In establishing tissue collections, issues that need to be considered include: 

• types of tissues to be stored 

• whether to link all tissues to vouchers 

• methods of preservation 

• storage facilities 

Obtaining tissue samples 

When collecting specimens, skeletal muscle, heart and liver provide excellent sources 
of DNA. However, liver should only be collected from freshly dead birds as the 
DNA in liver degrades more rapidly. When sampling DNA from specimens that 
have been dead for some weeks, feathers or foot pads provide the best source of 
relatively undegraded DNA. 

For non-destructive sampling, blood and feathers are both suitable (Arctander & 
Fjeldsa 1994). The removal of body feathers is preferred as it is much simpler, and 
adequate DNA samples can be obtained from one or two body feathers of larger 
species. While pin feathers provide the best source of DNA these are not always 
easy to obtain. To minimise harm to the bird it may also be better to obtain several 
body feathers than one or two primaries. 

Taking blood samples is more complicated as it causes stress to the bird and 
requires certain skills on the part of the field researcher. With blood there is also a 
greater chance of amplifying nuclear copies of mitochondrial genes because avian 
red cells are nucleated and have low concentrations of mitochondria (Quinn 1992, 
Sorenson & Quinn 1998). 

The need for linkage to vouchers 

Concerns have been raised on the use of tissues or feathers that are not linked to 
voucher specimens in DNA studies (Winker et al. 1996). These are valid for 
phylogenetic studies where each species may only be represented by one individual. 
Misidentification of a specimen can have serious effects here. Consequently, vouchers 
are necessary for species that are hard to identify from other similar-looking species, 
where hybridisation is an issue, and where cryptic species may be suspected to exist. 
For population studies of easily identified birds the need for vouchers may not 
be as great. Even for difficult species misidentification may be a minor problem if 
material is obtained from experienced researchers dealing with a local population 
study. Researchers studying the ecology and behaviour of a particular species can 
provide non-destructive samples of feathers and blood without the risk of 
misidentification. In fact, this is one fruitful way of obtaining material from highly 
threatened species. Wildlife managers involved in the translocation of individuals 
can collect non-destructive samples, which can then be used for DNA study. It is 

Leslie Ckristuhs GrJanetteAnn Norman 58 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123A 

relatively easj to earn appropriate sample tubes routinely, so that material suitable 
for DNA study can be obtained whenever a bird is being handled. 

Museums need to develop strategies on how to deal with such non-voucher- 
based samples. Rejecting all tissue/feather material without vouchers may appear to 
be a sound scientific policy but it is also highly restrictive, particularly for population 
studies. Museum curators and collection managers are in the best position to ascertain 
the quality of material, in terms of identification and use, before incorporating it 
into tissue banks. Such material should be flagged as lacking a voucher as this may 
impact on the type of study for which it is later used. 

Methods of tissue preservation 

The most effective long-term method of storing tissue for molecular analyses is 
ultra-cold freezing. This requires a significant commitment in facilities for a museum. 
Ultra-cold freezers are expensive and require some form of back-up system. Field 
collecting for ultra-cold storage is also difficult. Obtaining and transporting liquid 
nitrogen and dry ice is not practical in many field situations. Servicing loans is also 
a complicated process in terms of the practicalities of transporting frozen material 
and quarantine issues. Standard freezers are not a good option for long-term tissue 
storage, as some enzyme activity will continue at that temperature which will lead 
to degradation of the DNA. 

There are alternative storage methods for tissues. Tissue samples can be stored 
in ethanol and used for DNA analyses (e.g. Houde & Braun 1988). While ethanol 
may not be an ideal system for long-term storage compared to ultra-cold freezers, it 
does have many practical advantages. It is more cost-effective for smaller museums 
and those in less developed countries. No additional storage facilities are required, 
as most museums already have ethanol-preserved specimens. Ethanol storage is also 
highly convenient for field collecting, although this may not be the case in countries 
where alcohol is prohibited on religious grounds. 

The DNA from ethanol-preserved specimens will degrade to some extent due to 
endonuclease activity (Houde & Braun 1988). Although ethanol stops endonuclease 
activity, it is important that the ethanol permeate the tissue sample completely and 
rapidly. Tissue samples should be sectioned into small portions so that this can occur. 
It is also important that the samples be stored in such a way that evaporation of the 
ethanol is minimised, and that only highly pure ethanol is used. 

Tissues can also be stored in a variety of buffer solutions at room temperature 
(Amos & Hoelzel 1991, Seutin et al. 1991, Arctander & Fjeldsa 1994). For long- 
term storage refrigeration is probably better. The drawback with buffers is that access 
to distilled water, fine balances and autoclaves is required to prepare the buffer 
solutions. Although Arctander & Fjeldsa (1994) were able to extract DNA with no 
detectable degradation from material stored in buffers for five years, our experience 
has been that buffer-stored material provides variable results. 

One limitation of both ethanol- and buffer-stored material is that it may not always 
be possible to obtain purified mitochondrial DNA. This can be a problem where 
nuclear copies of mitochondrial genes are an issue. 

Leslie Christidis &JanetteAnn Norman 59 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Storage facilities 

As not all museums will have the capabilities to establish ultra-cold tissue banks, 
alternative systems need to be considered. The pooling of resources across museums 
and establishing centralised ultra-cold tissue collections is a possible solution. An 
advantage to users is that it is easier to source material from a single centralised 
collection. For the participating museums issues relating to individual roles, 
responsibilities, databasing, acknowledgment and benefits would need to be 

Ethanol tissue storage should be possible for all museums, and is suitable for 
most samples. However, some material from highly rare species should still be kept 
in an ultra-cold facility. At least some representation of each species should also be 
stored in ultra-cold conditions. A combination of centralised ultra-cold and individual 
ethanol tissue banks is an option worth exploring. 

Responsibilities of museums and users 

Samples for DNA work are a form of destructive sampling. Therefore it is important 
that the objectives and scope of the work are defined before loans are approved 
(Arctander & Fjeldsa 1994). With requests for feathers, skin or bone from museum 
specimens, material should not be provided until a strong case is presented that the 
requesting researcher has the technical skills, experimental design and facilities to 
extract and sequence DNA from such material. 

For all DNA studies, the material should only be used for the agreed specified 
project (Arctander & Fjeldsa 1994). All excess material and DNA must be sent back 
and material or DNA should not be given to a third party without prior consent. 

It is important that researchers include accession numbers of the tissues and 
vouchers when they publish sequences. This is needed so that the same bird is not 
sequenced by different laboratories and then treated as an additional data point. 
Information on locality and subspecies should be included as well (Hackett et al. 
1995). The collection and collectors (if appropriate) should be acknowledged in 
publications. Such information is taken for granted when morphological analyses 
are published but it has not been common practice in molecular studies. Museums 
can play a role in introducing such rigour by making it a condition of using either 
museum specimens or tissues for DNA work. 

When using material that is not linked to a voucher, it is still important that there 
is a tissue accession number and that it be cited in the publication. Again this is to 
ensure that specimens can be tracked across studies. It is also useful to have 
researchers provide the sequence information to the museum so that this information 
can be then linked directly to the specimen's database record. 

Researchers not linked to museums but who have collected material for their 
own studies should be encouraged to lodge any material left after completion of 
their study with an appropriate museum. Often this excess material lies forgotten in 
university freezers or drawers and is eventually discarded. This is a loss of potentially 

Leslie Christ id is & Janette Ann Norman 60 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

very useful material that should be accessible to the wider scientific community by 
being incorporated into a museum collection. 

Museums which have made an effort to build up DNA collections are often 
reluctant to provide samples to research groups that consistently make no effort to 
supplement these collections or to contribute their own resources towards securing 
material. Some museums have responded to this issue by imposing charges for 
tissue loans, but this is contrary to the spirit of cooperation that has been the tradition 
of museum specimen-based research. The imposition of charges ultimately 
discourages researchers from lodging material in museums. More positive 
approaches would be to (1) build alliances between institutions and researchers 
that undertake molecular systematic and evolutionary research and are willing to 
provide material to each other when needed; and (2) encourage non-museum 
researchers who make loan requests for DNA material to collect (where possible) 
and lodge material in appropriate museum collections. Museums have a 
responsibility to ensure appropriate use of their collections. As with any loan request 
we have the right of refusal if it is deemed to make inappropriate use or places 
excessive demands on the collection. 

Future directions for museum collections and DNA research 

In developing tissue collections museums need to identify those areas that are poorly 
covered in current holdings in terms of species and geographical distributions. It is 
important that the development of tissue banks be integrated with that of skin and 
skeletal collections. All specimens collected should have material lodged as either 
frozen or ethanol-preserved tissue. 

Another factor that needs to be considered when developing tissue banks is the 
type of study the collections are being used for. The most common use for DNA 
material from museums is for studies addressing systematic and phylogenetic 
questions. Often the requests for material involve single representatives from species 
and subspecies. There is less call for material to be used in population studies, even 
though avian molecular ecology has been a rapidly growing area in recent years. 
These latter studies require larger numbers of individuals per species, but few species 
are currently represented by large numbers of frozen tissue samples (Arctander & 
Fjeldsa 1994). 

Museums can take active measures to become more relevant for population and 
ecological studies. Museums are often the regional repositories for fauna found dead. 
Tissue or feather samples should be routinely obtained from all specimens lodged 
with a museum. In this way large collections of the commoner species will 

With most museums that were contacted, the greatest users of the tissue banks 
were internal staff from the museums themselves. The development of tissue banks 
and in-house expertise and facilities for molecular-based research were correlated. 
This is understandable given that collection development is often driven by the 
research interests of curators. This is a strong reason why the collecting of material 
suitable for DNA study should be integrated with general collection growth. 

Leslie Christidis & Janette Ann Norman 61 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Enhancing existing museum collections 

Museums should also be aware that DNA technology has the potential to add 
information to existing collections. Several PCR-based DNA markers have been 
developed that are sex-linked across a range of taxa (Griffiths et al. 1998). 
Consequently, it might be possible to sex museum specimens using DNA. This would 
be of benefit with unique or rare unsexed specimens, immatures or those with doubtful 
sex assignments. Clearly the costs involved would make this avenue only appropriate 
where sex information is critical. DNA sequencing has also been used to determine 
the taxonomic status of species based on a single museum specimen (Joseph et al. 
1999). DNA information can determine whether the unique specimens represent 
colour variants, preservational artefacts or species hybrids. In all the above examples 
DNA studies can be used to enhance the information content of collections. 


We thank Jon Fjeldsa for providing valuable and insightful comments on the manuscript as a referee. 


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Addresses: L. Christidis & J. A. Norman, Department of Sciences, Museum Victoria, GPO Box 666E 
Melbourne, Australia 3001. 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

K. M. Rajkowski 65 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

DNA and protein sequence databanks: some caveats 

by K. M. Rajkowski 

It is known that conventional museums contain specimens that are mislabelled, 
incomplete or so damaged as to be unusable, and that some specimens will have 
been mislaid or lost. It is less obvious that 'silicon museums', such as Genbank and 
EMBL, which comprise collections of DNA and protein sequence data, also suffer 
from similar problems. With these problems comes the corresponding risk of 
compromising increasingly popular molecular phylogenetic studies. Here, types of 
problem and reasons for suspicion of certain sequences, as well as examples of the 
inutility of others, are outlined and methods for detecting some errors proposed. 

Examples were found in the 2,470 mitochondrial cytochrome b sequence entries 
obtained by searching the EMBL V.60.0/EMBLNEW v.61.0 databank, updated to 3 
November 1999 (5,087,527 sequences), using the keyword 'cytochrome b'. Each 
entry consists of a label, identifying and describing the origins of the sequence, and 
a specimen, the DNA and translated protein sequences. 

Problem entries included: (1) specimens too fragmentary for use — as few as 13 
nucleotide base pairs. Only a minority of specimens are of the minimum number of 
base pairs (approx. 900) needed for protein molecular phylogenies when other genes 
for the correponding species have not been sequenced (as is mostly the case); (2) 
specimens where the proportion of undetermined nucleotides was so large that the 
sequence was unusable; (3) specimens where the DNA sequence had been translated 
into the protein sequence using the wrong genetic code (nuclear instead of 
mitochondrial); and (4) specimens not identified to species level (i.e. unlabelled). 
Mislaid specimens, not found in the search but present in the databank, included 14 
Phylloscopus (leaf-warbler) sequences (because of a typing error in their labels 
['cytochorome b']), and 44 sequences for Corvidae (crows), Sylviidae (warblers) 
and Timaliidae (babblers) only found using other keywords. Lost specimens included 
seven Phylloscopus sequences published in 1992 but still absent from the databanks. 
Furthermore, many entries were confirmatory replicates that could be combined 
into a single sequence entry with the corresponding annotations on the label. 

While many such problem entries should be detectable with appropriate computer 
programmes rather than 'manually' searching through (in the case of cytochrome b 
sequences) some 3,000 pages of text, the problem of sequencing errors remains. It is 
estimated that, on average, 0.1% of the nucleotides in databanks are mis-sequenced 
and, for methodological reasons, errors will be more frequent in some sequences 
than others. Some probable nucleotide sequencing errors are detectable provided 
they give rise to improbable amino acid substitutions in the translated protein, and 
for this reason it is recommended that the protein sequence be compared with those 
of related species prior to using the nucleotide sequence in a phylogenetic study or, 
preferably, before submitting it to a databank. 

Address : K. M. Rajkowski, INSERM Unite 488, Hopital de Bicetre, F-94276 Le Kremlin-Bicetre, France. 
© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 66 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

History vs mystery: 
the reliability of museum specimen data 

by Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert E Prys-Jones 


Museum specimens are consistently the most reliable source of many types of information 
for bird species. While the vast majority of bird specimens provide accurate data that 
form the baseline of knowledge of bird distributions, a small percentage of specimens 
can \ various types of misinformation, and to maximise the utility of specimen data and 
avoid perpetuation of errors, users need to be aware of and able to evaluate these problems. 
This paper discusses and provides examples of many types of misinformation on specimen 
labels, which include over-generalised or untraceable locality information, careless 
labelling, consequences of the profit motive among dealers, inadequate training and 
supervision of collectors, inappropriate curatorial techniques, problems in deciphering 
and interpreting label data, and fraud. Inadvertent problems such as imprecision and 
untraceability of localities and other data, as well as subsequent improper curatorial 
treatment, are common among older specimens, while known cases in which specimen 
data have been intentionally compromised tend to be rare and small-scale. The most notable 
exception is the Meinertzhagen Collection, which contains numerous stolen specimens 
bearing fraudulent data, as well as important specimens with genuine data. 


The collectors' old adage 'What's hit is history, what's missed is mystery' reflects a 
deep-seated and well-founded belief in the importance of the tangible evidence 
represented by the museum specimen. Certainly when compared with the multitude 
of chronic problems associated with sight records (jokingly summed up as: 'I wouldn't 
have seen it if I hadn't believed it'), specimen documentation allows more critical 
and objective study, not only now but also in the future, when new technology and 
methodology may be available. It is, however, self-evident that the accumulation, 
maintenance and interpretation of ornithological specimens will continue to be subject 
to errors of various types and, to a lesser extent, to pathological behaviours; indeed, 
the literature is replete with suspected or confirmed cases of problematic specimen 
data. Even so, specimens are being increasingly used in many applications by persons 
distant from, and unfamiliar with, the historical framework that makes many 
specimen-related problems transparent, so these data are often uncritically assimilated 
in the literature. The subject of specimen-based misinformation in ornithology seems 
not to have been reviewed, a deficit this paper attempts to redress in support of a 
more confident and accurate utilisation of museum material by future workers. 

We review specimen-related misinformation of various categories, beginning 
with the often pervasive but typically minor types of 'noise' due to carelessness and 
casual error, and progress through to rarer but more pernicious (on a case-by-case 
basis) instances of outright fraud involving specimens. However, the ubiquity of the 
minor types of specimen misinformation probably makes their cumulative negative 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 67 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

effect on ornithology greater than for fraud. Our focus is on the numerous problems 
that can arise from the specimens and their associated data, but we stress that the 
very existence of the specimen enables independent, scientific evaluation of its 
validity, and that some such methods deserve more widespread application. By its 
nature, the matter under discussion typically involves individual collectors, but our 
concern is exposition of the problems, over and above personal considerations. 

Outside the scope of our review are: specimen-based (and extremely important) 
sources of error such as misidentifications, hybrids and aberrant or composite 
individuals; lost or destroyed specimen documentation; and mistakes and 
misinterpretations of specimen data in specimen catalogues, the published record 
(as distinguished from errors in baseline data) and, increasingly, in databases. While 
we recognise that specimen data problems stemming from the earlier years of 
ornithology are even more prevalent and often less readily solved than more recent 
ones, our discussion primarily focuses on the latter half of the nineteenth century 
and later. This review provides a sample of the various types of specimen 
misinformation. Many additional cases have been published; others are undoubtedly 
known to living researchers who have not set them in writing; and others surely 
remain undetected or are long-forgotten. There is an extended history of critical 
appraisal of specimen records, typically on a regional basis, and comment will be 
found on the reliability of many major collections, especially the early ones, in 
scattered sources. Because resolutions to certain problems may seem obvious to a 
few but not to most, a compilation of such problems to improve the reliability and 
utility of ornithological collections worldwide would be a valuable long-term goal 
to serve current and future researchers when evaluating the probability of error or 
fraud in specimen data of a given collection or type. 

Collectors and error 

Data-poor labels 

Many older museum specimens have little or no associated data. In part this is due 
to ambiguity or uncertainty over old national borders, but also because early scientists 
and collectors were unaware of the importance of precise label data, so that it was 
exceptional for labels to be written in the field. As a result, many early species 
descriptions were based on specimens of unknown, questionable or mistaken 
provenance. The demand for new zoological material was overwhelming, and in the 
early descriptive years it seemed of little consequence whether a new species came 
from Brazil or Peru. Since many exotic natural history specimens resulted from 
round-the-world expeditions, it was not uncommon for specimens to be attributed 
after a voyage to localities in the wrong hemispheres, witness the following 
Neotropical species with Old World type localities or vice versa: Collared Puffbird 
Bucco capensis, in which the specific name supposes an origin in South Africa rather 
than the Guianas; Metriopelia inornata, a synonym of the Spotted Dove Streptopelia 
chinensis, erroneously described as from Brazil instead of Java (Warren 1966); and 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 68 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Buff-throated Purpletuft Pardalotus pipra Lesson (now Iodopleura pipra), who 
described it as 'a Trinquemale sur la cote de Ceylan', proposed as an error for Rio de 
Janeiro by Hellmayr (1915). Several specimens of Hawaiian birds were labelled as 
from Chile, on the same shipping route to Europe, one misleading Sclater (1862) 
into listing an "Elepaio Chasiempis sandwichensis as an undetermined tyrannid 
(Olson 1989); also, a specimen that almost certainly represents the type of the 
vanished Oahu Thrush Myadestes lanaiensis woahensis was registered as 'Sandw 
Isl. or Chili' (Olson 1996). This could happen by purchase of specimens at ports, by 
failure to label specimens en route, or by lack of communication between voyager 
and dealer or naturalist working up the results. The necessarily routine restriction 
and/or correction of early type localities was sometimes based on questionable or 
misinterpreted evidence, adding yet another level of uncertainty or error (Dickerman 

Generalised locality data on older specimens risks misleading modern workers 
because of changes in the geographical applications of names: specimens simply 
labelled 'Bengal' cannot now be certainly attributed to country (either India or 
Bangladesh), much less to a more specific locality (Husain & Sarker 1972); 'India' 
on old labels could mean a much broader region than now, including areas far to the 
east; and 'Punjab' specimens without more specific localities could be from either 
present-day India or Pakistan. Numerous species were attributed to the avifauna of 
Bhutan owing to a misinterpretation of 'Bhootan Duars', which now lie entirely 
within India. Many of T. C. Jerdon's historic Indian bird specimens were labelled as 
from 'Madras', which then included a large portion of southern India, not just the 
city recently renamed Chennai. 

Incomplete or generalised label data can also often be misleading on smaller 
scales. A taxon described from southern Sulawesi, now Rufous Fantail Rhipidura 
rufifrons celebensis Biittikofer 1893, was shown by Hartert (1896) to have been 
collected from smaller adjacent Tanahjampea. Although Curl-crested Manucode 
Manucodia comrii Sclater 1876 was described from the Huon Gulf, the type actually 
came from Fergusson Island (Frith & Beehler 1998). Specimens reportedly collected 
in Leyte, Philippines, were actually from the small island of Buad (Parkes 1965). 
Often, rather general place names were used for all specimens originating from a 
given segment of an expedition: Ancon was the locality recorded on the labels of 43 
Peruvian Diving-petrels Pelecanoides garnotii, although it seems more likely that 
they were from the offshore Islas Pescadores (Collar et al. 1992). Some Ethiopian 
specimens of White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi were labelled 'Entotto', which 
is a ridge of wooded hills, but it overlooks the far more plausible, marshy Sululta 
(Ash 1978). 

Of course, many localities at which birds have been collected are known by 
names shared with other localities. Some common ones such as 'Rio Grande' are 
especially troublesome: in Bolivia, avian specimens bearing this name come from 
at least two different localities (Remsen et al. 1986). An attempt to trace 'Santa 
Maria, Oriente' on Cuba for Cuban Parakeet Aratinga euops was defeated by the 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert E Prys-Jones 69 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

sheer number of options in the available gazetteers (Collar et al. 1992:300); and 
attempts to trace 'Fategarh' (or, e.g., 'Futtegurh') and 'Rampur' in various parts of 
India were likewise compromised by the glut of such names in their various 
permutations (Collar 2001:13). Within Afghanistan, specimens have been collected 
at two Faizabads, on opposite sides of the country (PCR unpubl.). An 'Allahabad' 
specimen of Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola, long thought (and recently 
mapped as) a vagrant to Uttar Pradesh, north-central India, is clearly really from 
one of several Allahabads in Pakistan, a locality specified by earlier workers and 
well within the species's known breeding range (Rasmussen & Anderton in press). 
Similar problems with African collecting localities are discussed by Dowsett (1972b), 
Morgan et al. (1978), Snow & Louette (1981), and Irwin (1991). 

Careless labelling 

It is typically difficult and frequently impossible to prove that any given specimen 
bears unreliable data, and efforts to do so often involve a degree of circular reasoning. 
Cautionary comments on certain collectors are commonplace, e.g. on Goodfellow 
and Hamilton (Zimmer 1947), Swainson (Parker & Benson 1971), Loria (Somadikarta 
1975), A. Garrett (Holyoak & Thibault 1978), R. H. Lefevre (Meyer de Schauensee 
in Greenwood 1980), Doggett (Jackson in Cunningham-van Someren 1981) and A. 
Ruiz (Blair in McGowan & Massa 1990), but objective evaluation is needed in each 

Charles Hose is best known for his pioneering Bornean collections, and had 
several birds named after him. However, after a short trip to northern Sulawesi in 
1895, he reported four species new to that island (Hose 1903), including one new to 
science (Dicaeum hosii Sharpe 1897). The material of D. hosii was later shown 
(Stresemann 1940) to comprise two mislabelled Bornean flowerpeckers and another 
of a known Sulawesi species. Another species (Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica 
nigritorquis) reported from northern Sulawesi by Hose (1903) is otherwise only 
known from the Philippines, and the remaining two novelties are also questionable 
(White 1974). These apparent errors were formerly attributed to the once-common 
practice of attaching printed labels to specimens a posteriori (White 1974), but the 
considerable problems with Hose (1903) suggest more catastrophic lapses on his 
part (see Collar 2001:792). 

Several Southern Ocean procellariiform species have long been on the North 
American list (main or hypothetical: AOU 1983) on the basis of specimens that J. K. 
Townsend sent to Audubon, saying they had been procured near the mouth of the 
Columbia River, between Oregon and Washington (Stone 1930). Townsend, who 
also sent Audubon a Chilean finch Brachyspiza which the latter innocently named 
Fringilla mortoni (Stone 1930), is assumed to have been careless in labelling. 

A number of specimens from Paraguay collected by Schulze and Haack in 1939 
have caused considerable confusion: the locality (235 km W of the Riacho Negro) 
has proved difficult to pinpoint, their field numbers are out of sequence, dates spent 
at what seem to be two different sites overlap broadly, the collection contains a 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 70 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

mixture of Chaco and Oriente species, and the labels are typewritten, indicating the 
strong probability of their having been prepared subsequent to the expedition (Short 
1972, Hayes 1995). 

Hugh Cuming (a well-known malacologist and plant collector, but the namesake 
o\' Tabon Scrubfowl Megapodius cumingi and Scale-feathered Malkoha 
Phaenicophaeus cumingi) was disparaged as the authority for several species from 
Sri Lanka by Layard ( 1 880), who wrote 'I should be very loth to accept a "habitat" 
on the ground that Cuming had stated it'. Cuming's collection included the only 
record for Sri Lanka of Broad-tailed Grassbird Schoenicola platyura (otherwise a 
narrow Western Ghats endemic), a record which has received cautious acceptance 
to this day (see Collar 2001 :2 199). The Schoenicola specimen is said to have come 
in with others collected in Sri Lanka by T. Thwaites (Sharpe 1906), and Natural 
History Museum (NHM) records do not readily elucidate its acceptability. However, 
Cuming has also been blamed for mixing up T. Bridges's specimens from Bolivia, 
Chile and Argentina (Sclater & Salvin 1 879), and his Philippine localities have been 
considered unreliable (Parkes 1961,Parkes 1988, Dickinson^ al. 1991). Regarding 
Cuming's vast shell collection, it is agreed that, owing to his own carelessness and 
that of those who cared for his collection, many specimens are wrongly labelled or 
have lost their data (Dance 1966). Given such independent support for Layard's 
concerns about accepting locality records from specimens dealt or collected by 
Cuming, lone Cuming specimens, such as the Schoenicola, cannot be accepted as 

The failure of some collectors to label their specimens properly meant that 
mistakes in the hands of their agents were inevitable. Richard Crossley's pioneering 
Madagascar collections all passed first through a dealer's hands, and mistakes 
evidently occurred when the usual letter recounting Crossley's itinerary failed to 
accompany a shipment (Sharpe 1875, Rasmussen etal. 2000). M. Humblot dispersed 
his Comoran scops owl specimens through various agencies, and thus they bear 
different 'original' labels depending on the dealer or institution that handled them, 
suggesting subsequent labelling. This probably explains a Humblot specimen labelled 
'Grand Comoro' but identical with Anjouan Scops Owl Otus capnodes of Anjouan 
and quite unlike Comoro Scops Owl O. pauliani of Grand Comoro (Rasmussen et 
al. 2000). 

Many early collectors did not have ready-made paper labels, and often used cut- 
up scraps, relied on memory, or sent birds back in batches using a general locality 
name. Subsequent assumptions are unreliable. Charles Darwin failed to label his 
now-famous Galapagos finches until 'after leaving the Galapagos Archipelago in 
late October 1835' (Sulloway 1982a:27), resulting in considerable confusion and 
even unwarranted doubts as to the provenance of some of Captain Fitzroy's own 
carefully labelled specimens. Sharpe (1879) considered the Sulu Islands the source 
of a single Reddish Scops Owl Otus rufescens that had come in unlabelled 
(Guillemard 1885) along with specimens both from the Sulus and Borneo; he did 
not venture to name it, but Hachisuka (1934) did so, apparently assuming the 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert R Prys-Jones 7 1 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

correctness of the locality Sharpe had ascribed it to. The fact that the bird matches 
darker examples in the now-larger series from Borneo means that Otus rufescens 
cannot be maintained on the Philippines list (Dickinson et al. 1991). 

The large collections of specimens from the Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel 
amassed by George Gaumer were received enthusiastically in museums, and formed 
the basis of numerous descriptions of taxa and several papers. Three species of 
Chaetura alone were described by G. N. Lawrence from Gaumer's material, although 
for one Gaumer apparently sent Lawrence '20 tails and one entire bird' (Greenway 
1978). For many years, very little else was known of birds of the region, and only 
later, when other collections began to come in, especially from the islands off Yucatan, 
did something seem amiss with Gaumer's specimens. So many of his records stood 
alone or flew in the face of other data that Paynter (1955) became sceptical of them. 
Nevertheless, Thompson (1962) published a number of Gaumer specimens as new 
regional records, prompting Parkes (1970) to set out the apparent problems with the 
material, including Gaumer's habit of sending boxes of unlabelled specimens to 
museums, where 'Yucatan' labels would be attached. Many records of mainland 
species for small islands off Yucatan and for Cozumel are still only based on Gaumer 
specimens, including groups typically lacking on islands such as woodcreepers and 
antbirds. For this reason a special category based only on Gaumer specimens was 
created in a table of Mexican island bird distributions (Howell & Webb 1995). 
Occasionally, however, species long known from Cozumel only by Gaumer skins 
have since been found there, e.g. Yucatan Flycatcher Myiarchus yucatanensis (Lanyon 
1965, Parkes & Phillips 1967), illustrating the dangers of becoming over-sceptical 
(see also Smith 2001). 

Even in recent times the problem of post hoc labelling has adversely affected 
what ought to have been valuable material. A very large collection amassed by Mario 
del Toro Aviles in Mexico is flawed owing to his labelling specimens long after their 
collection, sometimes perhaps not until they had been requested by a museum; he 
even admitted that a series he had labelled as from Oaxaca was actually from Puebla 
(Binford 1989). Some unique records from one side or other of the Isthmus of 
Tehuantepec, and new taxa described (e.g. Saw-whet Owl Aegolius acadicus 
brodkorbi) on the basis of the del Toro Aviles collection, therefore require 
confirmation (Binford 1989, Peterson & Nieto-Montes 1996). 

The reliability of local collectors 

Many naturalists employed locals to do their collecting, often not even accompanying 
them into the field. Frequently these employees excelled at the work, and obviously 
achieved a great deal. Inevitably, however, such staff could not be expected always 
to produce specimens with reliable data. Soderstrom's native collectors in Ecuador 
wrapped but did not attach bands of paper with locality and sex data around their 
specimens, and these easily became mixed up, leading Chapman (1926:735) to 
comment ruefully: 'Inaccuracies of this kind cast a suspicion on all records which 
do not conform to the normal and thereby prevent papers based on native-made 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 72 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

collections from adding much that is new to existing information in regard to 
distribution.' Leprosy forced the Penards, who assembled the first true series of bird 
specimens from Surinam, to rely on local collectors, and several species otherwise 
unknown from the country are represented in their huge egg collection, identified 
only by their assistants without confirmatory data (Haverschmidt 1955). 

Louis Mandelli, a tea plantation manager in Darjeeling (Pinn 1985), provided 
local collectors with monetary advances, guns and ammunition, and (despite some 
abscondings and deceptions) thereby amassed a huge collection, by far the largest 
c\ er assembled in the central Himalayas. Unfortunately, the specimens have minimal 
data, such as 'Native Sikkim', 'Thibet', 'Bhotan Doars', no indication of altitude, 
and no safe indication of sex (Brooks 1880, Pinn 1985). It is furthermore possible 
that none of his specimens is really from Tibet, owing to the then-undefined borders 
(Vaurie 1972). 

Many of Nepal's birds were discovered in the early nineteenth century by Brian 
Hodgson (Inskipp & Inskipp 1985), who was stationed (and under orders to remain) 
in Kathmandu and its Valley; thus he was obliged to rely on collectors (Cocker & 
Inskipp 1988). He took abundant notes and trained local artists to make coloured 
illustrations that serve as the types of many species (although by today's standards 
these would be considered nomina nuda). Now the country is relatively well known, 
but several of his species have not been found there again. This might be due to 
habitat loss, but so much uncertainty surrounds the exact provenance of some 
specimens (Cocker & Inskipp 1988) that an origin farther east cannot be ruled out. 
Even so, Hodgson's 'Nepal' material is less problematic than his later specimens 
labelled 'Behar' and 'India'. Those labelled 'India' by G. R. Gray (who in accordance 
with then current museum practice destroyed the original labels) are Himalayan; the 
preparation style is that of Hodgson's Nepal collectors, not his Indian ones; and they 
were independently considered by Thomas Moore to be from Sikkim (Horsfield & 
Moore 1854, Sharpe 1906:386). 

A problem particularly acute in the Andes was the failure of some early collectors 
to record altitudes, for example with Salmon (Chapman 1917) and Soderstrom's 
collectors (Zimmer 1948:32). Reliance on local collectors often meant that specimens 
were labelled at a central point such as the camp, as with Soderstrom (Chapman 
1926); in the cases of Buckley, Goodfellow and Hamilton even determination of the 
slope from which specimens came is impossible (Chapman 1926, Zimmer 1951b:35). 
Tibetan material from the 1924 Mount Everest Expedition was collected by local 
help, and nearly all the birds are labelled, without specific locality, as being from 
'10,000 ft', an unconvincing altitudinal uniformity (Vaurie 1972:68-69). 

The reliability of testimony of local collectors can have major implications for 
conservation. Two twentieth-century examples come from Thailand. One concerns 
the almost mythical White-eyed River Martin Eurochelidon sirintarae, the only 
specimens of which are a small series supplied by local people in response to a 
broadcast appeal for live wild birds for ringing. According to Thonglongya (1968) 
the birds were trapped by throwing a net over reedbeds at Bung Boraphet, but a 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 73 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

technical assistant subsequently reported that the birds were brought to the research 
team's hotel, so that neither the habitat nor the type locality can be entirely certain 
(P. D. Round in Collar 2001:1946-1947). However, the specimen labels have no 
indication of doubt as to the locality, thus lending false confidence to a provenance 
that is otherwise supported only by unconfirmed sight reports. 

The second and more telling case, which could perhaps be treated under the 
heading 'Fraud' below, concerned what were for 50 years the last published records 
of Gurney's Pitta Pitta gurneyi, including the first recorded fledgling: these were 
supposedly collected at 600-1,060 m on the mountain Khao Phanom Bencha, in 
southern Thailand (Meyer de Schauensee 1946). These records went unquestioned 
until the compilation of all other evidence on the species led P. D. Round to perceive 
that, with the exception of these specimens, Gurney's Pitta is an extreme lowland 
specialist (Collar et al. 1986). Ultimately the species was relocated at this mountain, 
but only at its base; searches higher up were futile (see Collar 2001). As other 
exclusively lowland species were also represented in Meyer de Schauensee's 
'montane' collection, it became apparent that his unaccompanied native collectors 
had not ascended the mountain, but had labelled specimens in the pretence of having 
done so (Round & Treesucon 1986, Round 1995). 

Dealers and error 

Commercial imprecision 

The once-thriving business of dealing in natural history objects has long been a 
source of distrust among ornithologists. Several dealers (e.g. Argent, Turner, Maison 
Verreaux) were mentioned by Sharpe (1906) as having purveyed specimens with 
brief or inexact localities, and carelessness by an agent caused Sharpe himself to 
misattribute specimens in Sir Hugh Low's Bornean collection to the island of Labuan 
(Sharpe 1906:419). Commercial interests were often so much to the fore that accuracy 
over the provenance of material was neglected. The dubious origins of many of 
John Gould's specimens are attributable to such considerations, although perhaps 
no more so than those of his scientific contemporaries. 

Among the most prominent dealers were Maison Verreaux of Paris, whose 
specimens found their way into numerous collections, and include type and important 
material for many taxa, which often appear to have acceptable localities. However, 
Lord Lilford observed them cavalierly assigning identifications for an egg collection 
(Trevor-Battye 1903, Mearns & Mearns 1998). A notable victim of such indifference 
to accuracy is the case of Necropsar leguati, whose unique specimen, labelled 
'Madagascar', was acquired by Lord Derby from M. J. Verreaux in 1 850. Aware that 
'M. Verreaux was often very inexact in the precise geographical data he inscribed 
on the labels of his specimens', Forbes (1898) described it as a new species of 
starling from the Mascarenes, whereas recent examination reveals it to be an albino 
specimen of a mimid from the Caribbean (Fisher & Jackson 2002, Olson et al. 
unpubl.)! Many Verreaux specimens lack locality data, but bear large labels with 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 74 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

elaborate w riting, typically synonymies copied from Bonaparte's Conspectus (Sharpe 
1906) and general localities (presumably the then-known range of the species) that 
could be misinterpreted as actual collecting localities. 

Henry Whitely Sr: dependably undependable 

The material stemming from Henry Whitely Sr is rife with problems. His son is well 
known for his collections from Japan, Peru and British Guiana (Haverschmidt 1955), 
although these were largely dispersed through his father's natural history agency 
(Shaipe 1 906). However, many anomalous locality records have come to light based 
on specimens dealt by the father. These include records that, if credible, would be 
the sole ones from the Nicobar Islands for three species, White-fronted Falconet 
Microhierax latifrons, Purple-naped Sunbird Hypogramma hypogrammicum and 
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum trigonostigma (and, indeed, the sole records 
from the entire Indian subcontinent for the first two). Despite Whitely's insistence 
that his two M. latifrons specimens really did originate from the Nicobars (Gurney 
1881), it is wholly improbable that this narrowly endemic Bornean falconet would 
occur in an undifferentiated form there. Furthermore, there are numerous other 
singleton specimens from Whitely Sr with localities that would be remarkable if 
true. Some have, however, been accepted in the literature, such as the NHM specimen 
of Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis supposedly from 'Mhow', central India 
(Mees 1985a), and the NHM specimen of White-fronted Scops Owl Otus sagittatus 
supposedly from Aceh, Sumatra (van Marie & Voous 1988). 

Among the entries of the Rothschild Collection in the AMNH catalogues, the 
localities of Whitely specimens are often surrounded by quotation marks, indicating 
that others were suspicious of his often very general localities such as 'Java', 'Nepal', 
'NW Australia', 'New Zealand', etc. Tristram's (1889) catalogue contains a listing 
of a Whitely specimen of Pied Lapwing Hoploxypterus cay anus (= Vanellus cay anus) 
from Chile, a country from which it is not genuinely known. A Whitely skin of 
Purple-bibbed Whitetip Urosticte b. benjamini from 'Rio Napo' is the 'wrong' race 
for the eastern side of the Andes (Zimmer 1 95 1 a), and the 'Tinta' locality of a Whitely 
specimen of Purple-collared Woodstar Myrtis fanny is anomalous (Zimmer 1953a). 
The sole basis for the inclusion of Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila cayennensis 
in the Peruvian avifauna is a Whitely skin from 'Samiria' (Zimmer 1953b). Two 
Whitely Terpsiphone specimens labelled as from 'River Gambia' formed the only 
basis for a new species T. erythroptera (Sharpe 1879); however, the specimen was 
almost certainly a mislabelled Asian Paradise Flycatcher T. paradisi (Sclater 1930, 
Warren & Harrison 1971, F. Salomonsen in Traylor 1986). Numerous other similar 
problems with Whitely provenances continue to surface. 

Not even Whitely specimens labelled 'British Guiana', where Whitely Jr collected 
extensively, are free of problems. The race lodopleura pipra leucopygia of this 
otherwise Brazilian species, Buff-throated Purpletuft, was described (Salvin 1885) 
on the basis of Whitely skins labelled 'British Guiana', but it has never since been 
found there — unsurprisingly, since this is within the range of a congener (Snow 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 75 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

1982). Whitely Jr's Guianan collecting took place subsequent to the collecting of 
the Iodopleura specimens, which are in a trade skin style, so they seem to be 
mislabelled (Snow 1982). Furthermore, birds matching race leucopygia have since 
been observed in Brazil (Ridgely & Tudor 1994). 

Even more significant is the case of the Scissor-tailed Hummingbird Hylonympha 
macrocerca, named from a specimen bought from Whitely Sr, who had 'received it 
in a collection of skins which had been formed in Brazil' (Gould 1873), apparently 
purchased at London Docks (Boucard 1892-1895). More specifically, Simon (1921) 
recorded that Whitely had given Gould the definite locality 'Matura district, Manawas, 
on the Bia River, north Brazil'. However, this spectacular species, imported in good 
numbers by dealers and with all specimens being in the 'Trinidad' style (see below), 
has never been found in Brazil. Instead, almost 75 years after its description, H. 
macrocerca was finally located in the montane zone of the Paria Peninsula, Venezuela 
(Phelps & Phelps 1948), to which it is now known to be endemic (see Collar et al 

Mis attribution to commercial entrepots 

For many years, countless thousands of exotic bird specimens were collected by 
locals, who were mostly trained to prepare them for the insatiable European and 
North American millinery markets. These collectors typically produced specimens 
of a recognisable preparation style, such as 'Trinidad', 'Bahia', 'Rio' and 'Bombay', 
obviously named for the point of collection and shipping. Natural history dealers 
and scientists often scoured incoming shipments for unusual species. Most numerous 
was the 'Bogota' make, which some have assumed to come from the environs of the 
city of Bogota — as did Vaurie (1967) with a specimen of Blue-knobbed Curassow 
Crax alberti (Collar et al. 1992) — when in fact specimens were brought from all 
over the surrounding country, probably even outside the borders of present-day 
Colombia and from the far slopes of the Andes (Parkes 1969). Some alleged 'Bogota' 
specimens must have come from even farther afield, such as Sickle- winged Nightjar 
Eleothreptus anomalus (Knox & Walters 1994). A great many 'Bogota' specimens 
were hummingbirds, and some are still known only from such trade skins of uncertain 
provenance (Chapman 1917, Graves 1990, 1997). Similarly, trade skins from adjacent 
Ecuador were often labelled either 'Napo' , meaning any elevation on the Amazonian 
side of the Andes, or 'Gualea', meaning the equivalent on the Pacific side (Chapman 

'Malacca' is a very common 'locality' for specimens from a long-standing trading 
mecca where skins were brought, probably from the entire western seaboard of the 
Malayan Peninsula (Gibson-Hill 1949) and even farther afield, but which matches a 
present-day provincial town. Medway & Wells (1976) rightly questioned 
distributional and migration conclusions based on 'Malacca' trade skins of Japanese 
Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis, while Mees (1985a) defended the specimens as 
acceptable. Other trade-skin localities in the Malaysian region included Penang and 
Singapore (Gibson-Hill 1949). A subspecies of Common Scops Owl, Otus scops 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 76 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

obsti, was described from a skin labelled 'Java' (Eck 1973), but the type and only 
specimen, indistinguishable from dark Sulawesi Scops Owl O. manadensis of 
Sulawesi, bears only a dealer's label and seems most unlikely to represent a valid 
taxon ( Rasmussen 1 998, unpubl.). Another major trade point was the port of Menado, 
in northern Sulawesi. A specimen labelled 'Menado' was named Rhipidura lenzi 
Blasius 1 883, but was soon shown to be from Ambon (Forbes 1884) and subsequently 
synonymised with the form cinerea of neighbouring Seram (Stresemann 1914, White 
& Bruce 1986). 

The make of trade skins has sometimes allowed them to be 'identified' by 
experienced museum workers to a general region (e.g. 'Demerara', 'Bahia', 
'Cayenne'), but usually without explanation of how they differ or the levels of 
certainty. For example, Zimmer (1950:30) stated without elaboration that a bird 
labelled 'Peru' is of undoubted 'Cayenne' make. Occasionally, specimens of genuine 
provenance may be taken for trade skins. The Moluccan Scops Owl Otus magicus 
morotensis is an example: numerous old specimens are labelled as being from Ternate, 
a Moluccan port with little forest, and the base of operations for the dealer Bruijn 
(Greenway 1973). The scops owls had been considered of doubtful provenance, but 
they form a series recognisably different from those of other islands (including 
Morotai, with which they are still combined racially), and a recently collected 
specimen confirms their Ternate provenance (PCR unpubl.). 

Collections personnel and error 

Assumption, accident and incompetence 

Some treatments and interpretations by museum staff and ornithologists have 
inevitably resulted in confusion and mistakes with respect to specimen evidence. As 
noted earlier, we do not dwell here on misidentification of specimens, an inevitable 
part of curation, but there is clear thematic overlap here with the earlier discussion 
of data-poor specimens. 

Because of problems with the localities of older specimens, these can sometimes 
be discredited prematurely when they do not seem to fit with current data. The type 
locality of the Brown Cacholote Pseudoseisura lophotes is 'Bolivia?', which 
subsequent authors presumed to be incorrect, although specimens are now known 
from the country (Parkes 1960). The type locality of Formicivora deluzae, a taxon 
of uncertain affinities to the White-fringed Antwren F. grisea, was judged doubtful 
because of other mistakes in Menetries's paper; only later did it become evident that 
it may well be correct (Gonzaga & Pacheco 1990). Lack of records for a century 
after the collection of Flores Scops Owl Otus alfredi in western Flores led to the 
view that it was only the rufous morph of O. magicus albiventris, precipitating the 
removal of alfredi from lists of threatened species; but close re-examination of 
specimens vindicated the original data (Widodo et al. 1999). Information in litt. 
from O. Neumann led Peters (1945) to substitute the Sula Islands for Makassar, 
Sulawesi, as the type locality of the Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda rufa, but 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 11 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

re-examination showed Neumann to have misinterpreted the evidence (Mees 1991). 
A specimen of White Bellbird Procnias alba collected by A. R. Wallace during his 
historic trip to Belem seemed so far out of range that the record was omitted by 
Snow (1973), but a population has now been discovered there (Roth et al. 1984, 
Oren & Novaes 1985). 

Genuine localities written on labels may also misrepresent the circumstances of 
the provenance of specimens in other ways. A notable case is a specimen of Grey- 
faced Buzzard Butastur indicus from Sri Lanka, which would have been the first 
record for that country and the only specimen for the Indian subcontinent. Enquiries 
established that both the collector and the specific locality were known and 
presumably reliable, but the chance discovery of an old photo of a Butastur in 
falconer's jesses prompted re-examination of the specimen for signs of captive 
origin — and indeed it bears signs of having been kept both on a tether and in a pen 
(PCR unpubl. data). 

Carelessness to the point of serious professional incompetence was shown by 
the taxonomist G Mathews. He erected an amazing number of new taxa (most now 
in synonymy) on the most tenuous of grounds. For example, he obtained a number 
of birds from Gerrard, the London dealer, labelled from 'Mackay, Queensland', 
from which he described several subspecies, usually bestowing a variant of the locality 
name on them (Greenway 1973). In one case he later synonymised Globicera pacifica 
queenslandica with the nominate, listing the locality as 'error = Tonga Islands'. His 
Ninox rufa queenslandica remains unique to the area, and the locality has been 
doubted (Greenway 1978). Mathews named a new species of cuckoo Cuculus waigoui 
(now a synonym of migrant Oriental Cuckoo C. saturatus) from a specimen said to 
have been collected on Waigeu Island in February. He named many new 
procellariiform taxa, typically surmising on slender or no evidence the natal grounds 
of birds collected at sea. He named a 'NW Australia' Soft-plumaged Petrel 
Pterodroma mollis specimen (obtained as a duplicate from NHM) as a new species, 
then synonymised it with the assertion 'locality wrong', despite the fact that the 
species occurs widely as a vagrant (Greenway 1973). From a series of Lord Howe 
Fregetta he erected four new species, three of them from single specimens (Greenway 
1973). Many of Mathews's specimens have no original label, so that their provenance 
cannot be independently evaluated (Greenway 1973). Indeed, Greenway (1973) was 
routinely unable even to endorse characters and measurements specifically mentioned 
by Mathews as applying to his type specimens. 

Label substitution 

Even the most scrupulous collectors could not guard against events that might befall 
their specimens in the hands of others. For many years it was standard practice for 
curators, among them some of the most respected names in ornithology — G. R. Gray 
at NHM (Sharpe 1906), O. Finsch at RMNH (Mees & Fisher 1986), R. Ridgway at 
USNM (Deignan 1961) — to discard original labels after copying the data they 
considered relevant onto labels of their own collection. These removals mean that it 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P Prys-Jones 78 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

is now impossible to verify spellings, handwriting or other details for affected 
specimens, or even to determine whether they ever bore original data. Thus Finsch's 
recopying and discarding of Layard's label on a Lifu Island Thrush Turdus 
poliocephalus pritzbueri, with an error of date, meant that the specimen was likely 
to have been erroneously considered a type, and indeed it was so labelled by Finsch 
(Mees& Fisher 1986). 

Another case concerns von Rosenberg's Leiden specimens, whose original labels 
were removed by Finsch (Mees 1953). Von Rosenberg's travels are comparatively 
well documented (van Steenis 1950), and the dates of his specimens can be checked 
against his itinerary. However, his series of Zosterops atrifrons 'sharped, supposedly 
from the Aru Islands (and the only material of this questionable race, described by 
Finsch). is identical with the nominate race of Black-crowned White-eye from 
northern Sulawesi (Mees 1953). Moreover, von Rosenberg supposedly — and 
uniquely — procured a specimen of the extremely restricted Pearl-bellied White-eye 
Zosterops grayi on the Aru Islands (Mees 1953); and he apparently took three 
Moluccan Scops Owls Otus magicus there too, a provenance accepted by most authors 
though they were suggested by White & Bruce (1986) to have come from the Kei 
Islands. In this last case, although O. magicus is well differentiated with recognisable 
forms on each island group, the lone adult of the three is indistinguishable from the 
nominate race of Seram and Ambon, and the juveniles unidentifiable (PCR unpubl. 
data). Given the considerable confusion between other of von Rosenberg's Aru and 
Kei specimens, e.g. Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor, Orange-fronted Fruit Dove 
Ptilinopus aurantiifrons, Red Lory Eos bornea and Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo 
Cuculus castaneiventris (= Cacomantis castaneiventris) (Holy oak 1970, 1976, White 
& Bruce 1986), all these records are dubious. Indeed, the provenance of von 
Rosenberg's specimens had been doubted by Salvadori (1880-1882) well before 
Finsch's removal of the original labels around 1900, so they seem likely to have 
previously borne questionable data. Von Rosenberg employed local collectors, and 
at least sometimes sent them collecting while he himself was ill (van Steenis 1950); 
he collected in Sulawesi, the Arus and Keis on the same voyage, so the specimens 
could easily have become mixed, a scenario rendered all the more likely given his 
characterisation as an 'idler' (van Steenis 1950) and the description of his collection 
as being of little scientific worth (von Berlepsch 1913). 

A similar case is that of the lone specimen of Ambon Yellow White-eye Zosterops 
kuehni from Seram, labelled as having been collected by Moens on the side of Seram 
farthest from Ambon, to which the white-eye is otherwise thought endemic. While 
several authors have thought it unlikely that Moens really obtained Z. kuehni on 
Seram, letters show he collected there, and it seems impossible to disprove a Seram 
origin (Mees 1981, R. W. R. J. Dekker in lift.). Often, however, reference to a 
collector's known itinerary can solve mysteries: by this means a published record of 
Bare-faced Curassow Crax fasciolata from Obidos (Pinto 1938), which seemed to 
indicate range overlap with Black Curassow C. alector, was shown to be an error 
caused by the loss of the original label (Pinto & de Camargo 1948). 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert R Prys-Jones 79 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Label-switching has been assumed in a number of cases, although it is usually 
difficult to prove (e.g. Watson 1969, Farkas 1979, Cardoso da Silva & Oren 1991). 
Compounding this, over the years labels occasionally fall off and are retied, inevitably 
sometimes to the wrong specimen, even of another species — e.g. a Siberian Crane 
Grus leucogeranus bearing also a White Wagtail Motacilla alba dukhunensis label 
(Knox & Walters 1994) — and many labels have been and continue to be irretrievably 
damaged, lost, or rendered illegible. A mysterious 'species' of rail {Tricholimnas 
conditicius), suggested to have originated either on the Gilbert or Marshall Islands 
(Peters & Griscom 1928, Walters 1987), has been shown most likely to have been 
erroneously associated with a label that led to those conclusions, but in fact to be a 
synonym of the Lord Howe Wood Rail Tricholimnas silvestris (Olson 1992). 

A typical loss on recopied labels was the frequent omission of the collector's 
own numbering system. However, collectors' numbers, often involving a simple 
sequence related to date of collection, can provide critical evidence as to provenance 
of a specimen. LeCroy & Peckover (1998) showed, through archival research and 
reference to the original collector's still-present number, that a subset of a substantial 
series of specimens taken by A. S. Meek on 'Misima Island' off Papua New Guinea 
had actually been collected from neighbouring islands during the main Misima 
collecting trip. 

The simple fact that a specimen does not now bear confirmatory data does not 
mean that such data never existed. White (1975) stated that W. Rothschild assigned 
localities to dataless cassowaries based on preconceptions over the distribution of 
their phenotypes. It it true that Rothschild ventured to describe a market-bought 
specimen of Grey-headed Albatross Diomedea chrysostoma as a new race he 
presumed to be from Campbell Island (Hartert 1926). However, White did not present 
sufficient evidence to support his contention, and Rothschild, who was normally 
reasonably careful with localities, may well have had correspondence and other 
information that led him to reasoned assessments, if not watertight facts; 
unfortunately, many of his potentially corroborating papers were destroyed following 
an ill-taken official decision (M. Rothschild 1983). 

Various users and error 

Problems in transliteration, translation, interpretation and reading 

Misreading and misinterpretation of label data occur frequently, and have accounted 
for a great deal of error: 'Iris Brown' has been catalogued as a collector (D. E. 
Willard per N. J. Collar verbally), and 'Mr Fernando Poo' as a donor (F. E. Warr 
verbally); 'Mr. Kaitsumwic', a supposed collector of Podiceps ruficollis japonicus, 
proved to be a mutilation of the Japanese name for 'grebe' (Greenway 1973); 
'Vorondolo' is a traceable locality in the eastern rainforest of Madagascar from which 
a specimen of the Malagasy Scops-owl Otus rutilus so labelled may plausibly have 
come, but is also one of several Malagasy names for owl (PCR unpubl.); and 
'Kinkimauro' was published as a locality for Pollen's Vanga Xenopirostris polleni 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P Prys-Jones 80 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123A 

(Sharpe 1872) when again it is the local name of the species (Collar & Stuart 
1 985:430). Pollen's Vanga was also the victim of an error over the type locality by 
Hartlaub (1877), who published it as north-east Madagascar, evidently because he 
assumed N.O. Madagascar' on the labels of the type series to indicate 'nord-ost' 
(German north-east) rather than 'nord-ouest' (French north-west) (Collar & Stuart 
1985:430). Certainly, foreign-language labels are particularly prone to 
misinterpretation: Banko (1979) apparently mistook the notation 'Erh[alten] von 
Chili' ('taken in Chile') for a collector's name (Olson 1989), and 'Enero' (=January) 
has been used as a locality (S. L. Olson verbally). 

A locality written on an Abyssinian Thrush (subsumed into Olive Thrush) Turdus 
abyssinicus label as Entebbe, Uganda, actually refers to N'dabibi (Cunningham- 
van Someren & Schifter 1 98 1 ). This mix-up may have been due to poor handwriting, 
hearing, and/or transcription. The first category is the easiest to document: the 
untraceable 'Muguazi River' as the type locality of Black-cheeked Lovebird 
Agapornis nigrigenis has been shown to be the Ngwezi River (Dowsett 1972a); the 
locality 'Sandag, Sarigas' (Seth-Smith 1910) for Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga 
jejferyi is in reality 'Tandag, Surigao' (Collar 2001:672); and, most strikingly, J. 
Natterer's locality Tacuczar' is, fide Vanzolini (1992), Ttacuruca'. 

In the field in Myanmar in 1985, PCR's enquiries as to the place name at which 
the team was collecting resulted in helpful replies, dutifully copied down — one of 
which turned out to mean 'little stream'. According to J. P. Angle (verbally), D. S. 
Rabor sometimes took students collecting with him in the Philippines, but some 
'localities' written on the labels appeared to be students' home addresses. 

Units of measurement 

One of the most obvious and yet pervasive problems involving collection dates is 
the dichotomy between British and American styles of writing dates on labels. One 
of the seven specimens of Forest Owlet Heteroglaux blewitti, that accessioned to 
MCZ, had the (British) collection date ('5/12', hence 5 December) interpreted in the 
American fashion (hence 12 May) on the MCZ label (Rasmussen & Collar 1999a: 12). 
In this particular case the species seems to be resident, and so the seven-month 
disparity matters mainly in study of the plumage cycle, but for many other species 
such an error would place them far from their normal haunts for that time of year. 
One specimen in NHM, a House Wren Troglodytes aedon guadeloupensis, now bears 
three label dates (Knox & Walters 1994), evidently at least in part owing to the use 
of roman numerals for months (II = 2 but easily read as 11). 

Numerous specimens lack collection dates on the labels, but may have a date of 
acquisition by a dealer or accession by a museum that is not stated as such, e.g. a 
Snail-eating Coua Coua delalandei bearing the date 1837, which is the date of its 
receipt in Stuttgart (Benson & Schiiz 1 97 1 ). Darwin's bird specimens collected during 
the voyage of the Beagle had labels inscribed "Jan 4 th 1837" added to mark the date 
they were accessed by the Zoological Society, not the date of collection (Sulloway 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 8 1 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Another persistent problem is that of distances, whether kilometres vs miles, 
metres vs feet, or millimetres vs inches. It has often been taken for granted by 
collectors that their units would be understood, which has of course not always been 
true. Several standards of measurement existed within Europe in the past, and are 
briefly discussed by Zimmer (1947). 

Mis-sexing and ageing 

Assumptions are often made about sex and age in birds, but museum specimen data 
cannot be taken as definitive without detailed corroboration. For many older 
specimens, it may be that the collector did not actually view the gonads when 
determining the sex. Some collectors operated in an assembly-line fashion, and are 
reputed to have crossed the legs one way to indicate one sex, and vice versa, a 
system that cannot fail to produce the occasional error. Early collectors often used 
an upside-down female symbol to indicate male (Clench 1976, Parkes 1989), which 
is open to misinterpretation by modern researchers. Collectors whose specimens are 
always sexed can be assumed to have been less careful than they might, as a certain 
proportion of specimens, especially when shot, will not be confidently sexable. 
Breeding-condition individuals of most species (a few exceptions are noted below) 
would rarely be mis-sexed when the gonads are examined, but juveniles and non- 
breeding birds are subject to unknown and variable, but presumably often significant, 
rates of mis-sexing. Users of specimens need to consider the field conditions that 
influence accuracy of sexing, such as poor lighting; exhaustion, illness, and/or training 
of the preparator; and development or deterioration of the specimen's gonads. 

Statements made about sexual dimorphism based on circuitous reasoning led to 
the belief that the presumed taxon Psittacula 'intermedia', alone among its congeners, 
had reversed sexual dimorphism (Sane et al. 1987). This helped obscure the hybrid 
origin of 'intermedia'' (Rasmussen & Collar 1999b). Mis-sexing and/or incorrect 
ageing is also held responsible for some of the apparently distinctive characters of 
the Moustached Kingfisher race Halcyon bougainvillei excelsa (du Pont & Niles 

A few groups of birds have atypical gonads, such as female accipiters, which 
have two readily visible ovaries, and Centropus species in which the males have 
only one large testis. Members of these groups are obviously more likely to be mis- 
sexed than those with conventional gonads. Knox & Walters (1992) documented 
mis-sexing in nearly 15% of Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus skeletons checked 
in the NHM, a surprising percentage given the gender- specific plumage and size of 
this species; Storer (1989) obtained similar results for skins of the highly size- 
dimorphic Brown Trembler Cinclocerthia ruficauda. RPP-J's own first venture into 
the NHM collections was prompted by a contradiction between Witherby et al. (1943) 
and Svensson (1970), who respectively maintain that there is complete overlap and 
no overlap in the wing lengths of male and female Corn Buntings Emberiza calandra, 
a species that shows no sexual plumage difference. Scrutiny of over 40 NHM 
specimens that would have been available to Witherby et al. suggested that nearly 

Rtmeh C. Rasmussen & Robot P. Prys-Jones 82 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

2(Y < . all taken outside the breeding season, had been mis-sexed, obscuring an almost 
complete sexual size difference (Prys-Jones 1976). 

Even in species that are strongly sexually dimorphic from their first contour 
plumage, e.g. Rufous-bellied Niltava/V/'/mw/ sundara (Dickinson 1972), the incidence 
of apparent mis-sexing may be high. All the specimens of Greenish Puffleg 
Haplophaedia aureliae collected by Goodfellow and Hamilton were shown to have 
been mis-sexed (Zimmer 195 lb:35), suggesting they relied upon the plumage of 
this drab hummingbird for gender determination. Some scrupulous nineteenth-century 
collectors (e.g. A. Everett) as a matter of course wrote 'nat. coll.' or its equivalent on 
the labels of specimens sexed by their assistants and which they had been unable 
personally to verify. 

Ageing of specimens can be notoriously problematic, and many taxonomic 
blunders have resulted from misinterpretation of specimen ages, e.g. 'Berlioz's 
Sunbird' Anthreptes pujoli is actually a a juvenile Green Sunbird Anthreptes 
recti rostris (Erard 1979). The new genus and species Antiornis grahami Riley 1926 
was described from a series of juvenile specimens which Parker (1964) and Watson 
(1986) considered to be Aberrant Bush Warblers Cettia flavolivacea , but which are 
actually Brownish-flanked Bush Warblers C. fortipes (Rasmussen & Anderton, in 
press). Even the routinely used notation of cranial ossification has its limitations, as 
the extent of cranial pneumatisation in full adults of many species is not known with 
certainty; for example, in Pipromorpha only a small part of the cranium appears to 
ossify (Mees 1985b), and incomplete ossification in adults has also been noted for 
numerous other species (Winkler 1979). 


There are a few cases within ornithology that seem to amount to major specimen 
fraud, but it is often difficult to be certain whether the perpetrators realised the 
consequences of their actions. Thus it is unclear exactly in what category some of 
the examples below belong. 

The classic case of apparent fraud, less for its intrinsic importance than the wider 
publicity it received, was the 'Hastings Rarities' (Nelder 1962, Nicholson & 
Ferguson-Lees 1962, 1971, Harrison 1968, 1971), in which records of birds rare to 
Britain purported to have been collected mostly by anonymous locals within a 20- 
mile radius of Hastings were traced to the dealer and taxidermist G. Bristow, who 
was suspected of having had them brought over from the Continent under refrigeration 
(Nicholson & Ferguson-Lees 1962). Consequently, in 1962, six species and some 
600 (mostly specimen) records of rarities, made in the Hastings area between 1892 
and 1930, were removed from the British list, based on the statistical improbability 
of so many unusual records clustering in so small an area, plus the fact that the great 
majority had links to Bristow. Bristow had claimed that he had encouraged local 
people to shoot specimens for him, whether they were common or not; that the sheer 
numbers of specimens sold to him resulted in the large number of rarities over the 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 83 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

years; and that anonymity was necessary to protect his sources from competitors 
and prosecution. If we accept that the Hastings Rarities are indeed fraudulent, the 
reason must presumably have been monetary gain, which is probably true of most 
situations in which deliberate specimen fraud has been perpetrated. 

Much collecting in earlier days was conducted as a commercial enterprise in 
which the value of specimens was directly linked to their scarcity, either in total or 
from a particular area. J. H. Batty, working on islands off the west coast of Panama, 
duped his employer Rothschild by adding mainland (including highland) birds to 
island collections, and although Hartert caught on at least once, Eisenmann (1950) 
did not, and reported on Batty's 'surprising number of what have generally been 
regarded as exclusively mountain birds'. Wetmore (1957) puzzled over discrepancies 
relating to some of the specimens Batty had collected on the large island of Coiba in 
1901 and assumed a specimen mix-up, but Olson (1997) recently concluded that 
Batty's entire supposed collection from the smaller islands in 1902, including such 
astonishing records as male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds Archilochus colubris with 
nests, is fraudulent and, indeed, that Batty probably never even visited these islands 
in 1902. 

A collector working in Venezuela for W. Rothschild, A. Mocquerys, was long 
suspected by Hellmayr and others of having provided unreliable localities for a 
rather long list of species (Zimmer & Phelps 1954). These authors concluded that 
Mocquerys's lack of success on a Caripe trip led him to augment it with specimens 
from Puerto Cabello, where operations were cheaper and easier, a conclusion 
supported both by Mocquerys's written complaints to Rothschild and by irregularities 
in field numbers in his 'Caripe' series (Zimmer & Phelps 1954). 

Among the most prolific of all collecting teams in the Neotropics, the Olalla 
family had already been collecting birds professionally when contracted by Chapman. 
Their collections are of extreme importance for understanding avian distribution 
within South America. Usually their labelling seems reliable, apart from being 
ambiguous over which side of a river material was from, and the occasional lapse, 
e,g. their taking of five specimens of Sharpbill Oxyruncus cristatus on a single day 
at a lowland site from which it was previously unknown, was assumed to reflect 
failure to label specimens accumulated earlier upstream (Mees 1974). However, 
Vaurie (1965) rejected A. M. Olalla's specimens of Little Chachalaca Ortalis motmot 
ruficeps supposedly collected within the exclusive range of the nominate race, adding 
that other naturalists have queried the authenticity of some Olalla material. Moreover, 
a small proportion of Olalla specimens appear actually to have been fraudulently 
labelled during a dispute; these include specimens sold to H. Bassler and now at 
AMNH (J. Haffer verbally). 

Egg collections present special problems owing to the difficulty or impossibility 
of certain identification. In particular, it should be mentioned that the largest collection 
of Indian bird eggs ever assembled, that of E. C. S. Baker, which serves as the basis 
for much of our presumed knowledge of the eggs and nesting habits of Indian birds, 
is seriously flawed. Even discounting the difficulties of identification and the 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 84 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

problems involved with employing native collectors, serious charges of the 'making 
up' of clutches in Baker's collection have been levelled (Harrison 1966, Harrison & 
Parker 1966, 1967a,b). Egg collections also have been subject to massive theft by 
enthusiasts (e.g. stolen eggs of numerous rare species: Knox & Walters 1992, 1994). 
In the case of the Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus, eggs with false registration 
numbers had been substituted for the stolen ones (Knox & Walters 1994). One 
documented case of specimen fraud is a painted Mute Swan Cygnus olor egg now in 
the NHM that was passed off by a dealer as a genuine Great Auk Pinguinus impennis 
egg (Tomkinson & Tomkinson 1966). 


The fraudulent collecting activities of one person, Richard Meinertzhagen, form a 
subject apart both in scale and, probably, motivation. His case also reveals how 
slow and difficult the path may be from well-founded suspicion to a reasonable 
level of proof and how, in the intervening period, most researchers using a collection 
may remain entirely ignorant of the doubts surrounding the data accompanying it, 
with negative effects on ornithology. However, on the positive side, the case has 
also proved to be one in which detailed research is allowing original data to be 
restored to specimens with a high degree of probability, and which has even led, 
indirectly, to the rediscovery of a supposedly extinct species (King & Rasmussen 
1998). In our discussion here we draw on various sources for general background 
information, notably Cocker (1989) and Rasmussen & Prys-Jones (unpubl.). 

The collection Meinertzhagen presented to The Natural History Museum (NHM) 
before his death in 1967 amounts to nearly 20,000 specimens, with appreciable 
additional numbers of specimens held in other museums. In the Meinertzhagen 
Collection are numerous important distributional records. Although born in 1878, 
Meinertzhagen's first significant publication dates from as late as 1912, on the birds 
of Mauritius, where he had spent about a year in 1910-1911; the paper contains 
almost no mention of specimen collecting. By 1919, however, Meinertzhagen had 
already been excluded from the NHM Bird Room for 18 months for unauthorised 
removal of specimens, and museum documents spanning the next 30 years contain 
numerous references to suspicions by staff that he was stealing both specimen and 
library material; twice these reached the verge of prosecution. Although nothing 
was made public, clearly at least some senior ornithologists knew that something 
was amiss. Around 1940, correspondence between H. Whistler and C. B. Ticehurst 
makes explicit reference to Meinertzhagen's theft of NHM specimens. However, no 
mention of this reached the published literature until 17 years after Meinertzhagen's 
death, when Clancey ( 1 984a), who had developed a deep antipathy to Meinertzhagen, 
drew attention to the flawed nature of his collections. The accusation of fraud was 
made explicit in a review of Meinertzhagen's redpoll specimens, based on assessment 
of preparation style and material used (Knox 1993). While compelling, the 
implications of this paper were so enormous that independent corroboration and 
further investigations were clearly demanded. 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 85 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

In the case of the redpolls, further research making use of x-rays (radiographs) 
has largely confirmed Knox's conclusions, although occasionally it has shown up 
limitations in what is discernible by external examination alone (RPP-J unpubl.). 
While it cannot be claimed that x-rays can prove who collected a specimen, the x- 
ray specimen signature of many major collectors is extremely distinctive. In many 
cases, not only can the fraudulence of a specimen be shown beyond reasonable 
doubt, but the original data can also be returned to a specimen with a high degree of 
confidence through the location of gaps in matching specimen series that were 
recorded in the NHM specimen registers. 

In order to judge the scope of the problem, we have examined a large number of 
Asian bird specimens in the Meinertzhagen collection, in particular focusing on key 
cases such as at least 14 species and distinctive subspecies on the Indian subcontinent 
list based entirely on his records. We have found that the scope of the problem is far 
greater than that so far published by Rasmussen & Collar (1999a); a comprehensive 
analysis, on which we draw here for examples, is in preparation (Rasmussen & 
Prys-Jones unpubl.). 

Meinertzhagen had a seemingly miraculous ability to stop very briefly somewhere 
but nevertheless collect important material. When his ship unexpectedly docked in 
February 1901 at Port Blair, Andamans, en route to Burma, he claimed he rushed off 
to collect birds behind the town. However, of his good Andaman series, all supposedly 
taken by him during this brief time, we have yet to find any specimens that appear to 
be genuinely his. For example, his single Andaman Treepie Dendrocitta bay ley i 
matches in every detail, both externally and internally, two specimens collected 
there by William Davison in 1872, including having an unusual neck support in lieu 
of a stick, and a distinctive under-the-wing incision, just like that of Davison's 
specimens. The NHM registers show that a third Davison specimen, collected in the 
same week as the other two, is now missing. 

Similarly, Meinertzhagen 's ship stopped briefly in the Seychelles in June 1910 
and his collection now holds two specimens of the extremely rare Seychelles Paradise 
Flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina, both with the locality given as just 'Seychelles'. 
These have the same make and materials as an NHM Nicoll specimen taken on 
Praslin, Seychelles, in 1906. The NHM register reveals that three adult males collected 
by Nicoll were accessioned, but only one (with detailed data) is now present in the 
collection. The other two Nicoll specimens, which probably also once had full data, 
had been earlier and independently noted as missing by Benson (1971). Moreover, 
Meinertzhagen's ship docked at Mahe, where the paradise flycatcher does not occur, 
and according to his diary and itinerary it was present too briefly for Meinertzhagen 
to have visited the islands the species did inhabit. 

Many of Meinertzhagen's frauds have potentially important zoogeographic 
implications. Among his substantial collection supposedly made in Burma in 1902 
are two specimens of the scarce and little-known Blyth's Kingfisher Alee do hercules 
prepared in dissimilar styles. One of these is very similar in style to an 1899 Whitehead 
specimen from Hainan, China; the NHM register shows that two such Whitehead 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 86 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

specimens were originally present, but only one now is. The other specimen matches 
no NHM specimens, but closely matches a series of three taken on Hainan by 
Owston's collectors in 1905-1906 and now in the Rothschild Collection at AMNH; 
according to Hartert's (1910) paper on Owston's collection, this originally held four 
specimens. Thus both Meinertzhagen's 'Burma' specimens are evidently from 
Hainan, some 1,500 km to the east of the purported locality, and with considerable 
potential to obfuscate knowledge of geographic variation in a scarce species 
represented by relatively few specimens. 

Occasionally, and notoriously in the case of the exceptionally rare Forest Owlet 
Heteroglaux blewitti (Rasmussen & Collar 1999a), Meinertzhagen had extensively 
remade an existing specimen in a manner which served to disguise its true origin 
until detailed examination, including forensic tests, was made. This particular case 
had a doubly positive outcome, as not only was the specimen — one of only seven of 
the species in existence — identified as a J. Davidson specimen stolen from the NHM 
and finally reunited with its original data, but the investigation led directly to the 
rediscovery of the Forest Owlet 113 years after the last reliable record. 

Most Meinertzhagen specimens have basic locality, date and sex data, but some 
labels contain additional information. For example, a skin of Gould's Shortwing 
Brachypteryx stellata that is almost certainly a stolen Mandelli specimen now has 
soft-part colour and stomach contents annotated on the label, even though of the 
thousands of Mandelli's native-collected specimens we have seen none that bears 
any such data, indicating these must have been guessed at by Meinertzhagen. 
Similarly, a Black-billed Magpie Pica pica bottanensis, supposedly collected by 
Meinertzhagen 'on a yak!' in 1925 along the Sikkim-Tibet border, closely resembles 
a Mandelli specimen from Tibet in make-up and structure, to the extent that both are 
(most unusually) stuffed with moss easily visible in the unsewn belly incisions. In 
addition, in his own account of his Sikkim expedition, published within two years of 
his expedition, Meinertzhagen (1927) specifically noted that 'No magpie was met 
with in northern Sikkim', so he evidently forgot he had written this when relabelling 
the specimen, presumably some time later. 

In addition to the many spurious distributional records published by 
Meinertzhagen himself on the basis of his mislabelled specimens, others have 
been published in good faith by other workers, among them Pallas's Bunting 
Emberiza pallasi as new for Burma (Colston 1978), Savi's Warbler Locustella 
luscinioides as new for Arabia (Colston & Holyoak 1970), and a range extension 
for Mottled Spinetail Telecanthura ussheri benguellensis (Benson & Winterbottom 
1977). A Meinertzhagen Half-collared Kingfisher Alcedo semitorquata was 
considered probably mislabelled, as the locality he gave would have been a swamp 
instead of the species's normal clear riverine habitat (Clancey 1984b). 
Meinertzhagen (1930) reported that Sooty Falcon Falco concolor bred regularly 
at Mombasa Fort, but this casual, unconfirmed record is so greatly at odds with 
the observations of others that it was not usually accepted (Moreau 1969) even 
before the exposition of Meinertzhagen's frauds. 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 87 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Despite all these problems and many more, it is clear that much of Meinertzhagen's 
collection comprises important specimens bearing genuine data. In particular, either 
the preparation style of someone who is known to have accompanied Meinertzhagen 
on a particular trip, or the presence of that collector's handwriting on a label, point 
to a given specimen being genuine. A case in point is Meinertzhagen's unique South 
Yemen specimen of Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita. We know that P. A. 
Clancey was on this 1948 trip, and the specimen was prepared in his style and with 
his unmistakeable handwriting on the label, so it is difficult to imagine how this 
specimen could be other than genuine. Further important specimens from the 
Meinertzhagen Collection that we are confident are genuine include his type series 
of Afghan Snowfinch Montifringilla theresae. He discovered this species in 1937; 
the series has all the hallmarks of authenticity, and no other source existed for them. 
Similarly, our initial suspicions about his two Hume's Owl Strix butleri specimens 
(considered among the highlights of his collection) were allayed by the fact that 
both still bear their original labels with full data, and Meinertzhagen had not claimed 
to have collected them himself. 

Other indications (to be used advisedly!) that a series purported to be from a 
given trip in the Meinertzhagen collection may be genuine include: presence of 
some females and immatures; some specimens being in imperfect plumage; 
uniformity of preparation style; seasonally appropriate moult condition and soft- 
part colours; and a lack of reworking of the specimen. In fraudulent material the 
latter is often evident as a loosely restitched abdominal incision with double thread, 
fresh clean cotton in belly and eyes, and legs that were crossed well after drying, 
often breaking delicate bones and twisting the dried skin. 

Given that the Meinertzhagen Collection contains material of great importance, 
and that the original data from fraudulent specimens can often, with some research, 
be repatriated with high confidence, we disagree with a former NHM curator with 
first-hand experience of Meinertzhagen, who stated that the entire collection should 
be destroyed. Without the specimen evidence, suspicion regarding Meinertzhagen's 
records might never have been made public. Moreover, there would certainly have 
been no way, many years later, to establish which records are genuine and which 
fraudulent, and to restore the correct data to at least some of the latter. 


We do not wish to leave the reader with the impression that specimen data are 
unreliable. On the contrary — the vast majority of specimens provide the most reliable 
source of baseline data available in ornithology. However, specimen evidence must 
be assessed probabilistically. The user needs to be aware of the exceptions and to be 
informed as to how to evaluate individual problem cases. It is not sufficient simply 
to throw out specimen data as unreliable because they do not fit one's hypotheses or 
the published record. Corroborative evidence should be sought, and there are many 
ways to seek it. In any particular case the reliability of associated data can often be 
tested in various ways. 

Pamela C. Rasmussen & Robert P. Prys-Jones 88 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

The specimens that exist now in museums are largely irreplaceable. Many of 
them have been mistreated in various ways, usually by well-meaning collectors, 
dealers, curators and users. Those who are responsible for the care of specimens and 
who may consider certain material worthless, for example if data are lacking, should 
reconsider this stance in the light of the potential for data recovery using combinations 
of historical reconstruction and modern analytical techniques. A dataless specimen 
may turn out to be something as valuable as the unique type of the Mysterious 
Starling Aplonis mavornata (Olson 1986), even if it takes 160 years for someone to 
recognise the fact. 


We thank J. P. Angle, N. J. Collar, J. Haffer, S. L. Olson, A. T. Peterson and M. P. Walters for providing 
information and anecdotes included in the present paper. N. J. Collar spent several days helping with the 
ordering and editing of the typescript. 


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Addresses: Pamela C. Rasmussen, Division of Birds, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560, 
USA. Present address: Michigan State University Museum, West Circle Drive, East Lansing, MI 
48824-1045, U.S.A.; Robert Prys-Jones, Bird Group, Department of Zoology, The Natural History 
Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Herts HP23 6AP, U.K. 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

NJ. Collar & Rudyanto 95 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

The archive and the ark: 

bird specimen data in conservation 

status assessment 

by N. J. Collar & Rudyanto 


The enterprise of naming all life-forms on earth reached its zenith in the years 1850- 
1950, but it is often forgotten that our knowledge of the distributions of species stems 
primarily from the same museum endeavour. However, various good reasons dictate that 
not all material deposited in museums is documented in the public domain, leaving the 
conservationist with a rich body of essentially new (if commonly predictable) information 
for use in fixing the ranges (and indeed ecologies) of threatened species. By its use of 
museum material, BirdLife International's Red Data Book programme has found numerous 
significant range extensions (whose effect — predictably, given that more localities indicate 
a wider extent of occurrence and stronger population — is generally to diminish the concern 
with which the species in question are regarded). Drawing on 60 museums, Threatened 
birds of the Americas used unpublished museum range and ecological data in 232 (77%) 
and 138 (46%) species accounts respectively. Drawing on 30 museums, Threatened birds 
of the Philippines identified a total of 830 localities, 228 (27%) of which were based 
solely on museum evidence. Museums also hold contentious specimens that require re- 
evaluation, but there is disconcerting evidence of the decline of the specimen-based 
taxonomy which helps to bind conservation and science together. 

Naming and placing 

All modern endeavours concerning biological diversity — its manifestations, patterns, 
measurement and conservation — rest almost entirely on the extraordinary programme 
of classification that natural history museums in Europe and the U.S.A. accomplished 
mainly in the period 1850-1950. This great century of accumulation, evaluation and 
synthesis of biological material was facilitated and fuelled by European capitalist- 
imperialist expansion (victory in the Second Opium War, suppression of the Indian 
Mutiny, and so on) and by the socially and intellectually convulsive insights of 
Darwin & Wallace (1858). It was effectively finished off by the colonial dismantlings 
in the aftermath of the Second World War (70 independent sovereign states in 1945; 
over 170 in 1975) and by the decisive (if debatable) observation of Mayr (1946) that 
'the period of new discoveries is practically at an end'. 

In that period, the vast majority of all known vertebrate (and perhaps invertebrate 
and plant) reference material was assembled — often (it is worth remembering) at 
the great personal risk and expense of the collectors themselves (see, e.g., Stewart 
1984, Mearns & Mearns 1998:40-42). Taxonomy was the biological science of the 
late nineteenth century, and its practitioners worked with single-minded energy on 
the identification and attribution of this flood of material, issuing catalogues and 
accounts of collections with a regularity and thoroughness that defies modern 
comparison. The British Museum's million or so bird specimens were almost all 
acquired during this period, thus at an average of 10,000 a year, or some 40 every 

X.J. Collar & Rudyanto 96 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

working day (by 1990 the intake was under 50 per year. Knox & Walters 1992), and 
in the years 1874-1898, when the hundred-year period in question was less than 
half run, the trustees issued a catalogue of its avian material, running to an 
encyclopaedic 27 volumes with an accumulated length of very approximately 16,000 
pages. This work was descriptive and synthetic: everything was assigned an identity 
by matching it to published evidence, so that huge synonymies were accumulated as 
taxonomists sought to determine the status of specimens and the priority of names 
associated with them. A major element in this process was the provenance of the 
material, which allowed museum workers to anticipate whether they were dealing 
with species already documented elsewhere. As a consequence, from this monumental 
labour a coherent pattern of the distributions of species began, slowly but steadily, 
to emerge. 

It is remarkable how slight public appreciation has been and remains of this 
crucial role played by museums in defining both species and ranges. Our entire 
understanding of faunas and floras around the world stems from the great systematics 
enterprise, begun effectively with Linnaeus two and a half centuries ago and now — 
at a point when it might be thought no longer achievable or even necessary — 
formulated outright (as for example 'Systematics Agenda 2000': Biodiversity and 
Conservation 4 no. 5 [1995]; and the 'All Species Inventory': Lawler 2001, Gewin 
2002), of identifying and classifying every one of the species alive today on earth; 
yet the debt, owed very largely to the great nineteenth-century museums of Europe 
and North America, continues to go almost entirely unacknowledged. 

Undocumented material: new voyages of discovery 

For various reasons, only a moderate proportion of the information attaching to 
holdings in a natural history museum is likely ever to be published. There is, to 
begin with, the time-lag between acquisition and classification, given the predictable 
difficulties in identifying parts of the material. (It is worth making the point that 
museums create their own in-house expertise: taxonomy is a skill acquired by its 
practice, and the speed and accuracy of workers at any given point is almost certainly 
correlated with the length of their employment.) Second, in any working museum 
the appropriate staff must inevitably be otherwise engaged, so that sometimes even 
commissioned collections will be set aside for the sake of other priorities and 
commitments. Third, when material is bought or bequeathed or delivered in bulk — 
i.e. when acquisitions occur randomly (see, e.g., Kitchener & McGowan 2003, this 
issue) — the human resources needed to undertake a full review of incoming stock 
are unlikely to be available for years or even decades (if at all). Fourth, it is not in 
any case the remit of museums publicly to itemise their holdings (despite the precedent 
of certain institutions in the nineteenth century): reasons of economy combine with 
the immediate interests of science in restricting publications to the more significant 
additions and the insights they bring. Fifth, the financial fortunes of museums vary 
over time like all other institutions, public or private, and inevitably many have lost 
the power to curate or publish on their holdings. 

NJ. Collar & Rudyanto 97 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

As a consequence of all this, a great deal of information associated with museum 
material never enters the public domain, and represents a resource awaiting any 
number of future uses. One might expect that, even if the information itself remains 
undisclosed to the public, the public would at least be aware that such information 
exists; yet this is not (or at least not always) so, nor is it even the case that directly 
interested parties, such as natural history students and conservationists, who stand 
to gain most from the resource, recognise the fact; indeed, even curatorial staff 
themselves sometimes seem oblivious to the importance of this aspect of the material 
in their care. The fact remains, however, that so much unpublished information resides 
on the labels of specimens in most major and many minor natural history museums 
around the world that a visit to any one of them represents something of a voyage of 
discovery in miniature: even today, the opening of a cabinet door can bring a 
researcher face to face with startling new evidence, intriguing new puzzles, and 
even — on the rarest occasions — hitherto unrecognised new species. 

This circumstance has been particularly important for the assessment of bird 
species conservation status at the global level. The quality of such assessments 
depends directly on the completeness of the information assembled (Collar 1996). 
Naturally the majority of information comes from published sources, and much of it 
is supplemented and updated by the personal testimony of field experts. However, 
the material stored in museums, although sometimes ancient and ostensibly therefore 
irrelevant, represents another data source which should not be neglected or 
underestimated. Since the early 1980s museums have played an integral role in the 
data-generating processes of BirdLife's Red Data Book programme and, as the 
following examples indicate, have contributed in large measure to a better 
understanding of the true ranges of many species. This in turn has affected perceptions 
over their conservation needs and options, the general effect — by increasing the 
number of locations for species, and therefore the sense of their numerical status — 
being to reduce the sense of alarm over status that the thitherto less complete published 
data have inevitably tended to create. 

Three policies followed in the Red Data Book programme are relevant here. The 
first is the obligation to cite every source from which an item of information is 
derived. The second is the decision not to cite information from unpublished sources 
if it already exists in published sources. The third is the requirement that, wherever 
possible, a locality record for a species should also have a month and year attached. 
Therefore any reference in a Red Data Book species account to a museum-derived 
item of information indicates something that cannot be (or at least has not been) 
found in the literature; this may be a record representing an entirely new locality, 
but it may also simply be an extra datum that adds to published information (for 
example, in museum catalogues and accounts of particular collections, localities 
were sometimes given without dates; these can often be supplied by direct reference 
to the specimen evidence). 

With this clarification, it is possible to understand how munificent a contribution 
museum data have made to the process of global conservation status assessment in 

X.J. Cottar & Rudyanto 98 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

birds. Threatened birds of the Americas (Collar et al. 1992) documents 302 species 
in full, with every reasonable attempt having been made to assemble as much 
information as possible relevant to their conservation (as token of which the 
bibliography itemises some 2,600 references and occupies 80 pages of text, while 
some 550 correspondents are acknowledged for information provided through 
personal communications). In spite of this effort, no fewer than 232 (77%) of these 
accounts carry previously unpublished range data from museums; and 138 (46%) 
carry previously unpublished ecological data from museums. No fewer than 60 
museums are listed as sources of information in the introduction to the book. 

While of course it cannot be claimed that all these items were of particular 
significance — some, for example, merely established an entirely predictable locality, 
food or clutch size — the figures clearly suggest that increased substance and authority 
was brought to the book through the addition of museum data. Some individual 
items of information were, however, particularly important, and here we select some 
of these as well as others from the companion volumes Threatened birds of Africa 
and related islands (Collar & Stuart 1985) and Threatened birds of the Philippines 
(Collar etal. 1999). 

International range extensions 

The BirdLife Red Data Book programme has uncovered and published first species 
records for at least five countries, namely: Dwarf Tinamou Taoniscus nanus in 
Argentina (two specimens in BMNH), Chestnut-throated Spinetail Synallaxis cherriei 
in Colombia (two specimens in FMNH), White-necked Picathartes Picathartes 
gymnocephalus in Guinea (five specimens in ZFMK), Grey-necked Picathartes P. 
oreas in Equatorial Guinea (specimen in EBD; information passed to and first 
published by Ash 1991) and Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae in Ivory 
Coast (specimen in MNHM). Collar etal. (1992) also provided the first unambiguous 
records of Yellow Cardinal Gubernatrix cristata from Paraguay (specimens in 
BMNH, also MCZ). Clearly one effect of these discoveries is to extend the 
responsibility for the conservation of the species in question to new countries, 
although this is not to suggest that it in any way diminishes the responsibility of 
those countries to which the species were previously believed confined. 

State or province range extensions 

Significant within-country range extensions (involving new political subunits or 
mountain ranges) based solely on museum material have been documented for several 
countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America, for example: records of 
Rusty-flanked Crake Laterallus levraudi in Carabobo and Miranda states, Venezuela 
(12 specimens in AMNH, ANSP, COP, USNM); Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird 
Amazilia castaneiventris in Santander, Colombia (nine specimens in DMNH, LACM, 
WFVZ); Black Inca Coeligena prunellei in the Central Andes of Colombia (specimen 
in MHNUC); Blue-headed Quail Dove Starnoenas cyanocephalus in Guantanamo, 

NJ. Collar & Rudyanto 99 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Cuba (multiple specimens from seven localities in AMNH, BMNH, CM, FMNH, 
MCZ, USNM); Eared Quetzal Euptilotis neoxenus in Nayarit, Zacatecas and 
Michoacan, Mexico (14 specimens in BMNH, DMNH, MCZ, USNM); Keel-billed 
Motmot Electron carinatum in Tabasco, Mexico (specimen in USNM); Three-toed 
Jacamar Jacamaralcyon tridactyla in Espirito Santo, Brazil (six specimens in MNRJ); 
Cuban Flicker Colaptes fernandinae in Guantanamo, Cuba (multiple specimens — 
including 39 from around Guantanamo town and bay — from nine localities in 
MNHM, ROM, USNM); Imperial Woodpecker Campephilus imperialis in Nayarit, 
Mexico (specimen in MLZ); Moustached Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes falcirostris 
in Goias and Pernambuco, Brazil (specimens in MNRJ and MZUSP respectively); 
Multicoloured Tanager Chlorochrysa nitidissima in Caldas, Colombia (specimen in 
USNM); and Turquoise Dacnis Dacnis hartlaubi in Quindio, Colombia (specimen 
in ICN). 

Significant proportions of range data 

Some threatened species, although relatively unknown in the literature, prove to be 
surprisingly well represented by museum specimens, and thus our knowledge of 
their ranges has been substantially enhanced. Perhaps the most striking example is 
the White-tailed Sabrewing Campylopterus ensipennis, established by Collar et at. 
(1992) as known from 23 localities, although only 5-6 of them had until that point 
been published, the remaining 17-18 being based solely on museum specimens (in 
AMNH, ANSP, BMNH, CM, COP, FMNH, LACM, USNM, YPM; see Fig. 1). Other 
notable cases include Nahan's Francolin Francolinus nahani, six of whose 1 1 known 
sites (in 'Zaire') were established from museum material (in IRSNB, MNHM, 
MRAC); Yellow-eared Parrot Ognorhynchus icterotis, with 13 'museum' sites out 
of 23 all told (in AMNH, ANSP, BMNH, FMNH, LACM, MCZ, MECN, USNM, 
YPM; see Fig. 2); Giant Antpitta Grallaria gigantea, with 12 out of 21 (in AMNH, 
Mountain-finch Poospiza garleppi, with seven out of 13 (in BMNH, CM, MCZ, 
NRM, ZMUC); and Saffron-cowled Blackbird Xanthopsarflavus, with 31 out of 71 

Range extensions in Madagascar 

In the century before the Second World War the birds of Madagascar were heavily 
collected by American, Dutch, English, French and German explorers, but even 
today the island remains inadequately documented ornithologically, nor has the 
breadth of the existing museum material been fully appreciated or utilised. The 
publication by Langrand (1985) of a significant but overlooked collection of Malagasy 
birds in the museum in Grenoble was an important reminder of the possibilities of 
provincial museums (see Roselaar 2003, this issue). In the early 1980s the most 
recent book available on the Malagasy avifauna dated back to 1970, and subsequent 
information on the rarest species and their habitats was largely anecdotal. Plotting 

X.jf. Collar & Rudyanto 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


TOBA(X) c /^^ 

<=> ^ 

^* ^~i^^ — ; 


% & ft 


c^ — v.-— — — —^ 

O Museum Jala 

# Non-museum data 

Fig. 1 . The range of White-tailed Sabrewing Campylopterus ensipennis. Black circles are localities 
identified from published sources. Grey circles are localities identified from unpublished museum 

the ranges of these birds was crucial to understanding the severity of their plight, 
and the museum evidence of north-west Europe (no budget then existed for Red 
Data Book research further from Cambridge, U.K., than Frankfurt-am-Main) proved 
to be indispensable. From it came proof of (at least former) occurrence of the 
Madagascar Fish-eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides on the north-east coast (specimen 
in RMNH); Brown Mesite Mesitornis unicolor as far north as Antongil Bay 
(specimens in RMNH), a range extension of 300 km; Scaly Ground-roller 
Brachypteracias squamiger as far south as Andohahela (specimen in SMF), a range 
extension of 750 km; Pollen's Vanga Xenopirostris polleni as far south as 30 km 
north of Taolanaro (Fort Dauphin) (specimen in MNHN), a range extension of 350 
km (information which reduced the threat status of the species from the highest 
category in which it had been placed by King [1978-1979]); and Madagascar 
Yellowbrow Crossleyia xanthophrys south to the Betsileo region (specimen in 
BMNH), a range extension of some 250 km. 

Range and natural history parameters in the Philippines 

Following volumes on threatened birds in Africa and the Americas, the BirdLife 
Red Data Book programme turned in the mid-1990s to Asia. However, because the 
Philippines had recently emerged as the world's leading nation for the highest number 
of highly threatened endemic bird species (Collar et al. 1994:24), it was felt 
appropriate to dedicate a volume exclusively to that country; hence Threatened birds 
of the Philippines (Collar et al. 1999). 

N.J. Collar & Rudyanto 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

The Philippines has strong historical and cultural links with the U.S.A., and the 
museum tradition has been maintained in the country ever since the one-time explorer 
D. C. Worcester established R. C. McGregor in the Philippine National Museum at 
the start of the twentieth century (see Dickinson et al. 1991:433). The unfortunate 
destruction in the Second World War of the collections that McGregor and his 
colleagues had amassed (Sibley 1946) was in large part compensated through the 
remarkable energies of D. S. Rabor (Kennedy & Miranda 1998), and indeed 
considerable quantities of his specimens were placed abroad, particularly with U.S. 
museums. Chicago's Field Museum (FMNH) alone acquired no fewer than 12,500 
Rabor specimens (D. E. Willard in litt. 2000), and the Delaware Museum of Natural 
History (DMNH) accumulated material from the expeditions and purchases of J. E. 
duPont (some involving Rabor) in the lead up to (and for a short time after) the 
publication of his Philippine birds (duPont 1971). 


Museum data 
Non-museum data 

Fig. 2. The range of Yellow-eared Parrot Ognorhynchus icterotis. Black circles are localities identified 
from published sources. Grey circles are localities identified from unpublished museum specimens. 

N.J. Cottar & Rudyanto 


Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Threatened birds of the Philippines covers 65 species in full, cites around 625 
references and acknowledges 104 personal contacts and 30 museums (14 North 
American, 7 continental European, 6 Philippine, 2 British and 1 Japanese). A total 
of 830 localities were identified, 228 (27%) of which were based solely on museum 
evidence. We map two species by way of example: Blue-capped Kingfisher 
Actenoides hombroni (22/34, 65%; Fig. 3) and Palawan Hornbill Anthracoceros 
marchei ( 14/27, 52%; Fig. 4). An even more remarkable circumstance is the Mindanao 
distribution of Azure-breasted Pitta Pitta steerii (it also occurs on Samar, Leyte and 
Bohol): Collar et al. (1994) mistakenly thought the species restricted on Mindanao 
to the Zamboanga Peninsula, missing two publications from 1993 which reported it 
from Bislig on the other side of the island, but even so it proves to be in various 
other parts of the island, with no fewer than 1 5 of its 1 8 localities there being derived 
from previously unpublished museum material. 

One notable trend, partly discernible on the maps used, is the way museum 
material highlights the importance of Samar. Samar is the sister island of Leyte, but 

CJ 'W 


O Museum Jala 
• Non-museum data 

Fig. 3. The range of Blue-capped Kingfisher Actenoides hombroni. Black circles are localities identified 
from published sources. Grey circles are localities identified from unpublished museum specimens. 

N. J. Collar & Rudyanto 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 




Museum data 

N on- museum data 

Fig. 4. The range of Palawan Hornbill Anthracoceros marchei. Black circles are localities identified 
from published sources. Grey circles are localities identified from unpublished museum specimens. 

whereas Leyte was the subject of a major review by Parkes ( 1 973), Samar has suffered 
almost complete neglect, with only one paper in the entire twentieth century (Rand 
& Rabor 1960) devoted even in part to the island's avifauna. Consequently we find 
that of its 82 localities for threatened species, no fewer than 49 (60%) are derived 
solely from museum evidence. Without this significant extra body of testimony, 
Samar would have remained undistinguished and irrelevant to avian and very possibly 
biodiversity conservation in the Philippines. Moreover, when forest cover is overlaid 
it transpires that a substantial part of the island is as yet intact; and when logging 
concessions and protected areas are added, it further emerges that the situation is 
poised to change rapidly for the worse, and that not a single protected area is in 
place to mitigate the circumstance (see Fig. 5). When this was disclosed at a priority- 
setting meeting held after Threatened birds of the Philippines went to press, it 
precipitated a major initiative, with USAID/Global Environment Facility support, 

\ T .J. Collar & Rudyanto 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 




p - 




9 =• y » 

\v 5T<3... »To "£ 


A <? 


o j JF 


If Protected are I \r 
|„" Mining application L 

I oresl c f 

O MtiNCuin .1. i i X 

Non-museum data *L 

■ V 

_ lllininftm/j 

! ^ ^\v 

Fig. 5. Point-locality records of threatened birds on Samar, Philippines. Black circles are localities 
identified from published sources. Grey circles are localities identified from unpublished museum 

to develop a large national park on the island (N. A. D. Mallari verbally 2000). If 
this duly comes to fruition, it will be in large measure to museum data that future 
generations will be indebted. 

Implications for species status assessment 

The fundamental drawback in using museum data is that they are, inevitably, out of 
date, usually by decades and sometimes by over a century, and therefore there is a 
strong possibility that the 'new' sites revealed have long become 'old' sites in terms 
of their avifauna. Habitat destruction has been proceeding so fast in recent decades 
that we would guess that fewer than 50% of unpublished museum localities still 
might be sufficiently intact to be available for conservation management. Thus — 
while always accepting that forest cover overlays tend to be highly schematised and 
inaccurate — the map of Samar (Fig. 5) shows the elsewhere undocumented collecting 

N.J. Collar & Rudyanto 105 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

sites as all sitting at the edge of known forest, and it is probably the case that most of 
them have now lost this original habitat. 

Even so, it is hardly surprising that the chief effect of the addition of unpublished 
museum data to information on the distribution of threatened species must be, in 
general, to reduce the degree of threat under which the species are judged to labour. 
What basically happens is that the museum data fill out the more expected parts of 
the map (largely true in Figs. 2-4 and even in Fig.l). After all, really surprising 
range extensions represented by museum specimens commonly are reported in the 
literature. Inevitably, therefore, it tends to be the rather less interesting material that 
is allowed to sit undocumented in a cabinet, but even so it would be greatly mistaken 
to underrate the importance of the corroboration this material furnishes. Again and 
again we find that species' range maps, as published in otherwise authoritative and 
revered handbooks and fieldguides, are inaccurate, the product of assumption overlain 
on assumption. With threatened species, of course, it is particularly important to 
minimise the use of non-precautionary assumption, and the patient documentation 
of their ranges, however predictable some of it may be, represents a cardinal obligation 
in the quest for best judgement. 

Equally important is the greater opportunity that a suite of previously unknown 
sites offers to a conservation manager contemplating the best options for attempting 
to secure a species's long-term future. This includes the chance to identify key areas 
based on sympatry of threatened species at given sites. Using the data in Collar et al. 
(1992), Wege & Long (1995) were able to highlight several such areas based 
exclusively on museum material, for example Parnagua and Corrente (Piaui, Brazil), 
from collections made in 1927 and 1958; Santa Ana (La Paz, Bolivia) in 1934; 
Serrania del Baudo (Choco, Colombia) in 1912 and 1940; Valle de Yunguilla (Azuay, 
Ecuador) in 1940 and 1961; Horqueta (Concepcion, Paraguay) in 1933 and 1938; 
Cajabamba (Cayamarca, Peru) in 1894; and San Esteban (Carabobo, Venezuela) in 
1875 and 1945. 

Unworked material: new insights on distributional 
and taxonomic status 

Ever since point-locality data were deployed in the highly incomplete Atlas der 
Verbreitung palaarktischer Vogel (1960-1989) and the British Museum's two atlases 
of speciation in African birds (Hall & Moreau 1970, Snow 1978), the fundamental 
rigour and honesty inherent in this form of range mapping has been self-evident. 
Sadly, however, it is also extremely labour-intensive and, apart from such rare cases 
as Threatened birds of the Philippines or Paynter's Nearctic passerine migrants in 
South America (1995), point-locality mapping has almost always been used only for 
single species, sometimes with extensive use of museum data, e.g. Hook-billed Bulbul 
Setornis criniger and the White-throated Babbler Malacopteron albogulare (Sheldon 
1987), Blue-cheeked Amazon Amazona dufresniana (Wege & Collar 1991), Bornean 
Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephalus (Witt & Sheldon 1994) and Bearded Tachuri 
Polystictus pectoralis (Collar & Wege 1995). Nevertheless, some of these single- 

A',7. Collar & Rudyanto 106 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

species exercises have a particular value in illustrating the ways in which museum 
material can transform the received wisdom represented by maps based on less 
rigorous sources. The following examples relate to elevation, range and date, 

GURNEY'S PITTA Pitta gurneyi In early 1986 the only hard evidence for the 
survival of Gurney's Pitta was a live captive bird in Bangkok; even so, the species 
could then have been declared extinct under CITES criteria, as the last published 
sighting in the wild had been 50 years previously in 1936, when four birds were 
collected for Meyer de Schauensee (1946). Curiously, however, a major review of 
rare birds in Thailand had mapped it as present throughout the forests of the peninsula 
(Bain & Humphrey 1982), strongly suggesting that alarm for the species was 
premature. By contrast, the tracing of over 100 specimens of the species and the 
mapping of every published and unpublished locality (Collar et al. 1986) allowed 
the opposite conclusion to be drawn. It emerged that all sites except one (Meyer de 
Schauensee's! — apparently owing to deliberate mislabelling by his collectors, 
intending to suggest that they had ascended a mountain when they had not: Rasmussen 
& Prys-Jones 2003, this issue) were in the level lowlands. Accordingly the emphasis 
of the search for the species was shifted and, with the help of a trade tip-off, the 
species was rediscovered in June 1986, just in time to initiate conservation measures 
at what was then the only viable remaining site in Thailand and what is now the only 
one known in the world (Round & Treesucon 1986, Gretton et al. 1993). It was a 
cause of considerable dissatisfaction that Bain & Humphrey's 1982 map somehow 
managed to be republished unaltered, in greatly enhanced format (Humphrey & 
Bain 1991 ), five years after the truth about Gurney's Pitta was set forth in the public 

PLAIN-POUCHED HORNBILL Acm>s subruficollis Both editions' of Birds to 
watch, the abbreviated Red Data Book which updates the world list of threatened 
birds, included Plain-pouched Hornbill, and both credited Kemp (1988) for 
determining the characters that separate it from Wreathed Hornbill A. undulatus 
(Collar & Andrew 1988, Collar et al. 1994). Even so, Kemp (1995) was evidently 
unable to apply his insights to the breadth of museum material available, since he 
mapped the species as occurring throughout Myanmar and into north-east India, 
and shaded in Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra as possible parts of the range. Only 
with the detailed inspection and analysis of museum specimens by Rasmussen (2000) 
has a clarification of the range of the species been achieved, and on this basis it 
proves to be almost as limited as the original range of Gurney's Pitta, extending 
from the Thailand-Malaysia border north to Toungoo in south-central Myanmar. 
The consequences of this important insight are too obvious to state. 

VEERY Catharus fuscescens Work driven by J. V. Remsen, attaching times of year 
to point-locality records of migrant birds in South America, has begun to revolutionise 

NJ. Collar & Rudyanto 1 07 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

our perceptions of their annual spatio-temporal patterns (see, e.g., Remsen & Parker 
1990, Marantz & Remsen 1991). A striking example involves the Veery, which has 
been mapped in several publications in the past — including the excellent Paynter 
(1995) — as occupying a significant segment of northern South America during the 
boreal winter period. These maps are not 'wrong'; but they are inevitably construed 
as implying an undifferentiated spread of the population through the areas mapped 
for the duration of its residency there. By contrast, mostly using museum label data, 
Remsen (2001) has demonstrated that the Veery undertakes a long loop movement 
through South America involving a mid-winter pause in a circumscribed area of 
Brazil in or near the basin of the Rio Xingu. It turns out therefore that the Veery has 
a much smaller winter range than a simple map would have us believe, because each 
general staging area in its protracted non-breeding circuit is far smaller than the 
total area it visits. The loss of any one area, considered as a proportion of the whole, 
would not result merely in the loss of an equivalent proportion of the bird's population; 
rather, it might result in the loss of its entire population. 

The evaluation of problematic specimens 

Specimens that defy classification generally qualify as 'undocumented material'. In 
some cases the matter may be genuinely intractable; in others it may be more one of 
the experience and ability of the taxonomists. Olson (1986) observed that unique 
specimens tend to be regarded as 'freaks, hybrids, or... subspecies' and thus 
'overlooked and ignored'. It requires considerable time and dedication to investigate 
such material and attempt to resolve the problems, simply because the returns on 
such endeavours may be so small. Nevertheless it clearly matters to conservation 
whether one or a small series of apparently anomalous specimens represents a species 
or not. 

Collar & Stuart (1985) treated at least two taxa known from single specimens 
over which serious taxonomic doubts have been raised, namely White-chested 
Tinkerbird Pogoniulus makawai and Red-tailed Newtonia Newtonia fanovanae. 
Collar et al. (1992) did the same with Magdalena Tinamou Crypturellus saltuarius, 
Coppery Thorntail Popelairia letitiae, Tachira Emerald Amazilia distans, White- 
masked Antbird Pithys castanea, Cone-billed Tanager Conothraupis mesoleuca, 
Cherry-throated Tanager Nemosia rourei and Hooded Seedeater Sporophila melanops. 
Four of these, Coppery Thorntail (Graves 1999), White-masked Antbird (LSUMZ- 
MHNJP project rediscovery in 2002: D. F. Lane in litt.), Red-tailed Newtonia 
(Goodman & Schulenberg 1991) and Cherry-throated Tanager (Pacheco 1998), have 
proved to be genuine, while one, Tachira Emerald, has been judged invalid (Weller 
& Schuchmann 1997, Graves 1998), and another, White-chested Tinkerbird, has 
been quietly dropped as 'generally considered no more than [an] aberrant individual' 
of Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus (Short & Home 2002), although 
G. R. Graves — whose elucidations of taxa known by few or single specimens (e.g. 
Graves 1992, 1996, 1998, 1999) have been particularly helpful, not least for the 
perplexed conservationist — has commented informally (verbally 1999) that, 

X.J. CoUar & Rudyanto 108 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

following a preliminary (two-hour) inspection of the type, the White-chested 
Tinkerbird seems likely to prove a good species. 

An interesting case — and one which actually conflicts with Olson's thesis, since 
he regretted the reluctance of ornithologists 'to accept unique specimens as 
representing valid species' — is the 'Rufous-tailed Parrot' Tanygnathus heterurus. 
Forshaw (1989; previous editions in 1973, 1978) has always treated this under an 
independent heading, thus giving it at least the illusion of species status (reinforced 
by a most attractive illustration), despite the fact that his examination of the type 
suggested that 'it is probably an aberrant specimen of T. sumatranus\ Inskipp et al. 
(1988) revealed that over 500 true Blue-backed Parrots T. sumatranus (protected 
under Indonesian law) were traded in the period 1981-1985 under the name T. 
heterurus (unprotected under Indonesian law). They observed that 'it is imperative 
that the true nature of this taxon is resolved as soon as possible', not least because of 
the cover it appears to provide for illegal trade in another species. Despite this plea, 
we know of no recent interest in examining the type specimen afresh. 

There are many such taxa whose type and only specimens await evaluation. A 
helpful feature of the old AMNH world checklist (Morony et al. 1975) was its 
asterisking of species of uncertain status, usually owing to a paucity of material. 
However, this practice only extended to those taxa which had somehow been given 
the benefit of the doubt; excluded were taxa which in some cases may simply have 
received a single negative assessment and thus fallen from sight, amongst them, for 
example, Spotted Green Pigeon Caloenas maculata (Anon. 1898, Peters 1937, Gibbs 
et al. 2001). A list of persistently dubious taxa, whether on or off world lists, is 
highly desirable as a working document for future researchers; however, the business 
simply of discovering the discarded yet inadequately evaluated taxa is likely to be 
problematic, and may only be achievable by a concerted pooling of information by 
collection managers, who are most likely to know of the oddities in their care. We 
encourage them to make a start; and it should go without saying that we regard the 
maintenance of specimen-based taxonomy and systematics as vital to the elucidation 
of the problems these specimens represent and indeed to the needs of conservationists 
in general over the coming decades. 

Hopes and fears 

We call this paper 'the archive and the ark'; we might just as easily have called it 
'the anchor and the ark', because natural history museums are to conservation, and 
indeed to all biological science, the great link to the natural world, a key point of 
reference, and a mechanism for locking the management of natural resources into 
the hard substrate of science. These few examples help demonstrate the value of 
museum collections in one small but significant aspect of conservation work, relating 
to the documentation and management of threatened species — for a catalogue of 
other conservation uses see especially Remsen (1995) — and this paper has been 
written as an expression of gratitude to the many institutions which, over some 20 

N.J. Collar & Rudyanto 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Fig. 6. Staff level changes in two institutions over the same period, 1975-2000: continuous line = BirdLife 
International Secretariat (including regional offices) executive staff (source: NJC); dashed line = Natural 
History Museum research and curatorial staff (source: F. E. Warr in litt. 2002), but note that the stabilised 
level from 1990 onwards represents the retention of curatorial staff only, with all research capability 
removed (see text). 

years, have unfailingly made their material available for consultation and use by 
conservationists from BirdLife International. 

It is also written as a gesture of support at a time when natural history museums 
are, in general, finding it increasingly hard to convince governments and institutions 
to provide for their vital work. It is as if their political masters have interpreted the 
close of the great era of exploration and discovery as an indication that there is no 
more work to do. It is true that a new era of work in natural history has begun — that 
of conserving as much as possible of the habitats that yielded up all those museum 
specimens in the previous hundred years or so — but this is not of course to say that 
such work should replace the work of museums. In the period 1975-2000, staffing 
levels within ICBP/BirdLife International, the world's leading bird conservation 
organisation, rose from one to almost 90 (9,000%). In the same period, research 
capacity at the Subdepartment of Ornithology at the Natural History Museum, Tring, 
where the largest single collection of avian museum material on earth is housed, 
was reduced by 90% (Collar 1997), with no full-time taxonomist or systematist 
being employed since 1988 (R. P. Prys-Jones verbally 1999; see Fig. 6). It hardly 
needs to be said that this circumstance is unpropitious. 'Without taxonomy to give 
shape to the bricks and systematists to tell us how to put them together,' wrote May 
(1990), 'the house of biological science is a meaningless jumble'. Conservationists 
are themselves dwellers in the house of biological science, and are likely to be the 
greatest losers in this scenario. One might go on to say that without taxonomy and 
systematists to keep the house of biological science orderly and functioning, museums 
become mausoleums and nature becomes a garden in which conservationists cannot 
tell weeds from wonders (and in which 'biological diversity' becomes the only, but 
now meaningless, binomen they can claim to be helping). 

\J. Collar & Rudyanto 1 10 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Curiously enough, however, some of the most immediate threats to museum 
specimen collections are from seemingly competitive internal pressures. Molecular 
studies have become so fashionable in the past two decades, and are apparently so 
much less expensive and so much more efficacious than more traditional museum 
science, that they have begun to marginalise specimen collections in the eyes both 
o\' space-stressed administrators pondering their budgets and of result-oriented 
academics planning their immortality. There is no short-term solution to this, but it 
is of vital importance that biochemical work complements and does not simply replace 
specimen-based analysis. Most of all, museums need to prove their continuing 
relevance by being used, and one measure to revive their fortunes in the face of 
official indifference or even hostility might be the re-importation of formal taxonomic 
studies into university curricula, so that biological research students will possess 
greater interest and confidence in designing all or part of their projects around the 
use of museum material. 

This will, of course, depend on their being able to get into the institutions in 
question, which may not in the future be as simple a proposition as it once was. The 
new recognition that the biochemical properties of species can quickly become the 
legal properties of businesses has produced a sharp interest amongst parties to the 
Convention on Biological Diversity in asserting national rights of ownership over 
specimen material, and a tranche of impending prohibitions on researchers appears 
to be in the making. 'If implemented as proposed', Grajal (1999) has observed, 
'most of the access laws will make biodiversity access permits more difficult for 
scientists to obtain than for mining concessions, tougher on museums than on 
hydropower development, and more cumbersome for herbaria than for logging 
companies'. Indeed, in our work towards the completion of Threatened birds of 
Asia, we were informed (by J. Hon in lift. 1999) that to gain access to the Kuching 
Museum in Sarawak foreign researchers must now obtain (1) a 'Permit to Access, 
Collect & Research on Biological Resources in Sarawak' from the Sarawak 
Biodiversity Centre, which entails completing a 20-page form and allowing a three- 
month processing period, and (2) permits of entry from both the Economic Unit and 
the State Planning Unit in Kuala Lumpur, which base their decisions in part on the 
issuance of the Sarawak research permit but which are reported to include other, 
undisclosed considerations in their decisions. 

These new impediments to 'biodiversity prospecting' are understandable, but 
it will be heavily ironic if they also obstruct the real conservation of the resources 
in question. A dialogue is urgently needed between users of museums and the 
institutions that regulate such use in order to reach a fair accommodation of 
interests. In the same vein, recent requests made by some conservation organisations 
for full-scale museum 'data dumps', as a quick means of achieving an outward 
degree of authority in priority-setting exercises, have been greeted with scepticism 
or worse in some institutions, and they evidently risk causing a general backlash 
for inadequately acknowledging the professionalism, commitment and sheer 
expense that underpin the major specimen collections of the world today. Again, 

N.J. Collar & Rudyanto 1 1 1 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

if this only serves to produce greater restrictions on access, the irony will be as 
withering as the effect. 


Museum initials used in this paper are: AMNH, American Museum of Natural History; ANSP, Academy 
of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia; BMNH, The Natural History Museum, U.K.; CM, Carnegie Museum 
of Natural History, Pittsburgh; COP, Coleccion Ornitologica Phelps, Caracas; DMNH, Delaware Museum 
of Natural History, Greenville; EBD, Estacion Biologica de Doriana, Seville; FMNH, Field Museum of 
Natural History, Chicago; ICN, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 
Bogota; IRSNB, Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles, Brussels; LACM, Los Angeles County Museum 
of Natural History; LSUMZ, Louisiana State University Museum of Zoology, Baton Rouge; MCN, 
Museu de Ciencias Naturais, Rio Grande do Sul; MCZ, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard; 
MECN, Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, Quito; MHNG, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 
Geneve; MHNJP, Museo de Historia Natural 'Javier Prado' , Lima; MHNUC, Museo de Historia Natural, 
Universidad de Cauca, Popayan; MLZ, Moore Laboratory of Zoology, Occidental College, Los Angeles; 
MNHN, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris; MNHNM, Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, 
Montevideo; MNRJ, Museu Nacional de Rio de Janeiro; MRAC, Musee Royale de l'Afrique Centrale, 
Tervuren, Belgium; MZUSP, Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de Sao Paulo; NRM, Naturhistoriska 
Riksmuseet, Stockholm; RMNH, Rijksmuseum voor Natuurlijke Historie (now Naturalis), Leiden, 
Netherlands; ROM, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; SMF, Senckenbergmuseum, Frankfurt; UMZC, 
University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, U.K.; USNM, United States National Museum, Washington 
DC; WFVZ, Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Los Angeles; YPM, Peabody Museum, Yale, 
New Haven; ZFMK, Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und Museum Alexander Koenig, Bonn; ZMUC, 
Zoological Museum of the University of Copenhagen. 

We thank J. Hon of Sarawak Biodiversity Centre for information on application procedures to visit 
the Kuching Museum, and N. A. D. Mallari for commenting on a draft. The paper was kindly refereed 
by P. Andrew. 


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U.K. (email:; Rudyanto, BirdLife International Asia Programme, Jl. Jend. 
Ahmad Yani 11, Bogor 16161, Indonesia (email: 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

BsrAlstrdm & Richard Ranfi 1 14 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

The use of sounds in avian systematics and the 
importance of bird sound archives 

by PerAlstrom & Richard Ranft 


The stcad\ increase in the global total of bird species is in part due to the discovery of 
distinct vocalisations which reveal hitherto unrecognised information, either the presence 
o( entirely new species or the level of differentiation in taxa previously treated as 
conspecific. There are many examples of both types of discovery (and some where taxa 
previously given species status prove conspecific). The importance of vocal analysis in 
establishing the relationships between taxa is also demonstrated by numerous examples. 
Avian sound archives are clearly crucial to the advancement of such studies, but many 
more recordings are needed, their quality must be high, the circumstances of recordings 
need to be documented, the identity of vocalising birds needs to be firm, and a fuller 
system of cooperation between sound archives is required. 


The number of bird species in the world was estimated to be c. 8,600 by Mayr ( 1 946), 
c.9,000 by Bock & Farrand (1980), and c.9,700 by Sibley & Monroe (1990). This 
increase widely exceeds the number of newly described species in that time period. 
Part of this increase can be attributed to the growing knowledge of bird vocalisations 
in combination with the current trend to recognise allopatric taxa with distinctive 
songs as species rather than as subspecies (Sibley & Monroe 1990, Parker 1991, 
Price 1996, Peterson 1998). 

Although sounds have mainly been of use in the ranking of closely related 
allopatric taxa, vocalisations have also been used to infer relationships, both within 
and between genera, and have been crucial in the discovery of several new species. 
We here review the use of vocalisations and other acoustic signals in systematics; 
see also Payne (1986) for a thorough review and Morel & Chappuis (1992) for a 
review of West African taxa. We also discuss the importance of sound archives and 
suggest how they may be made more useful to future researchers. 

The importance of vocalisations in the discovery 
of new species 

Several new species have been discovered because of their distinct vocalisations. 
Some of these escaped attention because they are highly secretive and difficult to 
see, and others because they are sibling species which are morphologically similar 
to other species. Several examples are given here. 

A rail id heard in September 1997 on a steep mountain slope in primary forest in 
the Talaud archipelago, Indonesia, later proved to be an undescribed species, the 
Talaud Bush Hen Amaurornis magnirostris (Lambert 1998). 

Per Alstrom & Richard Ranft 1 15 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

The existence of two new species of Andean pygmy-owls, Subtropical Pygmy 
Owl Glaucidium parked (Robbins & Howell 1995) and Cloud Forest Pygmy Owl 
G nubicola (Robbins & Stiles 1999), was first indicated from tape-recordings of 
their voices. 

The Cryptic Warbler Cryptosylvicola randrianosoloi was first detected in 1992 
in eastern Madagascar by its voice (Goodman et al. 1996) and it was subsequently 
found to be common (Morris & Hawkins 1998). Likewise it was its song that first 
disclosed the presence of the Jocotoco Antpitta Grallaria ridgelyi in the Andes of 
southern Ecuador (Krabbe et al. 1999). 

The Ancient Antwren Herpsilochmus gentryi was discovered by Jose Alvarez 
Alonso and Bret Whitney when Whitney identified it as a new species from among 
Alvarez's unclassified tape-recordings of unseen canopy birds from Peru (Whitney 
& Alvarez Alonso 1998). They later managed to find it in the field (and to collect 
two birds), confirming its distinctness. 

Four new species of Scytalopus tapaculos from South America, Choco Tapaculo 
S. chocoensis, Chusquea Tapaculo S. parkeri (Krabbe & Schulenberg 1997), 
Diademed Tapaculo S. schulenbergi (Whitney 1994) and Tall-grass Wetland Tapaculo 
Scytalopus iraiensis (Bornschein et al. 1998), were discovered because their songs 
differed from other known species. 

The observation that there were 'two markedly different vocal types', and 
pronounced differences in display, in what was originally believed to be Suiriri 
Flycatcher Suiriri suiriri led to the discovery of the Chapada Flycatcher Suiriri 
islerorum (Zimmer et al. 2001). 

The song of the Nepal Wren Babbler Pnoepyga immaculata (Martens & Eck 
1991) was long thought to be a variant of the song of Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler 
P. albiventer. It was later realised that the individuals with this kind of song also 
differed morphologically from Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, and the existence of a 
previously unknown species was thus revealed. 

Three previously unknown species of warblers were discovered in China during 
the 1990s as a result of their vocalisations. Emei Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus 
emeiensis, restricted to a small area in central China, was first noted because its 
song and call differed markedly from two other sympatric, similar-looking species, 
Blyth's Leaf Warbler P. reguloides and White-tailed Leaf Warbler P. davisoni 
(Alstrom & Olsson 1995). Vocalisations were also of paramount importance in the 
discovery of two new species of Seicercus warblers, S. soror and S. omeiensis, and 
in the elucidation of a group of sibling species (Alstrom & Olsson 1999, 2000, 
Martens et al. 1999; see below). Other new warblers have been found because of 
their distinct vocalisations, e.g. Dorst's Cisticola Cisticola dorsti (Chappuis & Erard 
1991) and River Prinia Priniafluviatilis (Chappuis 1974), both from West to Central 

The Taiwan Bush Warbler Bradypterus alishanensis was previously treated as 
the subspecies melanorhynchus of Russet Bush Warbler B. mandelli (=seebohmi), 
but was described as a new species (Rasmussen et al. 2000a) when it was realised 

PtrAlstrdm & Richard Ranfi 1 16 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

that its song differed markedly from other populations of Russet Bush-warbler and 
that no name was available for this population. 

No fewer than three indigobirds, Jos Plateau Vidua maryae, Goldbreast V. raricola 
and Barka V. larvaticola, were discovered mainly because of their songs (Payne 
1982. 1998. Payne & Payne 1994). However, the discrimination of the first of these 
species led to the even more remarkable discovery of the Rock Firefinch Lagonosticta 
sanguinodorsalis (Payne 1998). Indigobirds are species-specific brood parasites that 
mimic the songs of their host species, mainly firefinches Lagonosticta spp. (e.g. 
Payne 1968, 1973a, 1973b, 1982, Payne & Payne 1994), so when it was realised 
that the song of the Jos Plateau Indigobird differed from the songs of all other 
indigobirds, it was predicted that there must be an unknown firefinch song model in 
the area. 

At least two new species of corvid, Sinaloa Crow Corvus sinaloae from western 
Mexico (Davis 1958) and Little Raven C. mellori from southern Australia (Rowley 
1 967a.b), were discovered because of differences in vocalisations from other species, 
in the second case a sympatric species (Australian Raven C. coronoides). 

The importance of vocalisations in the assessment of 
taxonomic rank 

There are many cases, in a wide range of genera, where allopatric taxa have been 
'upgraded' from the rank of subspecies to species, or even from colour morph to 
species, because of differences in their acoustic signals. The converse is less common. 
Some examples are presented here. 

The North American Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis and Clark's 
Grebe A. clarkii were previously considered to be colour morphs of the same species 
(Western Grebe A. occidentalis). However, Nuechterlein (1981) showed that the 
'advertising call' used in mate attraction differs significantly between the two and 
that, in an area of sympatry, each 'morph' responded almost exclusively to its own 
call. This confirmed the studies of Storer (1965) and Ratti (1979), which had shown 
strong assortative mating in these 'morphs'. 

In many seabirds, especially those that breed in burrows and only visit their 
breeding islands at night, females probably identify conspecific males by their 
vocalisations, at least at long range (James & Robertson 1986, Bretagnolle 1990, 
1995, Bretagnolle et al. 1990, Bretagnolle & Robinson 1991). Studies of sounds 
have sometimes revealed differences between populations that were considered 
conspecific, and have been used in conjunction with other evidence to show that 
these taxa are better considered separate species. The Antarctic Prion Pachyptila 
desolata, Salvin's Prion P. salvini, Broad-billed Prion P. vittata, Slender-billed Prion 
P. belcheri and Fairy Prion P. turturhave been treated differently by different authors 
on the basis of morphological data. Bretagnolle et al. (1990) studied these taxa on 
their breeding islands, where two to four occurred in sympatry. They showed that 
their voices (as well as morphology, phenology of breeding and diet) differed 

Per Alstrom & Richard Ranft 1 1 7 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

consistently, especially in sympatric taxa, and they therefore considered all to be 
separate species. 

Bretagnolle (1995) analysed the vocalisations of Soft-plumaged Petrel 
Pterodroma mollis from several different localities. Based on this (in conjunction 
with morphological characters), he concluded that the Soft-plumaged Petrel should 
be split into two species, one in the northern hemisphere, P. feae, and one in the 
southern hemisphere, P. mollis. (It should be mentioned that others, following the 
lead of Bourne [1983], believe that the North Atlantic taxa feae and madeira should 
be treated as separate species based on morphological differences, although 
Bretagnolle [1995] remarked that their calls were similar and overlapped.) 

The Herald Petrel Pterodroma heraldica was formerly believed to have a dark- 
bellied and a pale-bellied colour morph. However, Brooke & Rowe (1996) noted 
consistent differences in the vocalisations of pale and dark birds (especially in the 
rate of delivery of the calls in a series). These differences, in combination with 
evidence of assortative mating and lack of gene flow, led them to propose that the 
two morphs are in fact separate species, Herald Petrel P. heraldica and Henderson 
Petrel P. atrata. 

The 22 currently recognised species of megapode Megapodiidae differ little in 
plumage, but markedly in bare-part colours and proportions (Roselaar 1994, Jones 
et al. 1995). Although their vocalisations are imperfectly known, there are 'minor 
differences between the races and sometimes marked ones between species', 
supporting the proposed classification (R. W. R. J. Dekker in Roselaar 1994). 

Even in groups such as bustards Otididae, which are not very vocal, voice has 
proved useful in taxonomic assessments. It is now widely accepted that the Crested 
Bustard Eupodotis ruficrista involves three allopatric species owing to differences 
in vocalisations and morphology (Chappuis et al. 1979, Morel & Chappuis 1992, 
Payne et al. 1997); and it has been suggested by Gaucher et al. (1996) that the 
Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata is better treated as two allospecies, C. 
undulata and C. macqueenii, owing to differences in 'display call' and courtship 
display (supported by morphological and genetic differences). 

Acoustic signals have been used comparatively rarely in wader taxonomy, despite 
the fact that most waders have distinct sound displays. The Amami Woodcock 
Scolopax mira is an exception. It was once treated as a subspecies of the Eurasian 
Woodcock S. rusticola, but Brazil & Ikenaga (1987) pointed out differences in (among 
other things) vocalisations and the apparent lack of a display flight. 

Thonen (1969), Olsson (1987) and Miller (1996) remarked that the 'drumming' 
made by the tail-feathers during flight display differed between European (nominate) 
and North American (subspecies delicata) populations of Common Snipe Gallinago 
gallinago. Based on this (in combination with morphological differences), they 
suggested that these should be considered separate species. 

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica and Pacific Golden Plover P. fulva 
were formerly treated as conspecific (under the name American Golden Plover P. 
dominica). Connors et al. (1993) studied these taxa in an area of sympatric breeding 

PtrAlstrom & Richard Ranfi 118 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

in western Alaska and showed that there were consistent differences in vocalisations 
('song', alarm calls and other calls) and in habitat choice, and that mating was 
assortative. ByrkjedaJ & Thompson (1998) came to the same conclusions. These 
results supported the proposition by Connors (1983), based on a study of specimens, 
that those taxa are separate species. 

Miller (1996) noted differences in five variables in the display vocalisations of 
Common Ringed Charadrius hiaticula and Semipalmated C. semipalmatus Plovers, 
but only very slight intra-taxon differences over large areas. These findings lent 
support to the widely accepted notion that these taxa are better treated as separate 

Song characteristics have been used to re-estimate species limits in several 
cuckoos: Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus dicruroides, Round-tailed Drongo 
Cuckoo S. lugubris, Moluccan Drongo Cuckoo S. musschenbroeki and Philippine 
Drongo Cuckoo S. velutinus (Payne 1997, in press); Horsfield's Cuckoo Cuculus 
optatus (=horsfieldi) and Oriental Cuckoo C. saturatus (Payne 1997, but lumped in 
Payne [in press] 'because a larger sample of songs shows some overlap, and 
specimens show overlap also': R. B. Payne in lift.); Common Cuckoo C. canorus 
and African Cuckoo C. gularis (Payne 1986, Morel & Chappuisl992); Rufous Hawk 
Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus, Philippine Hawk Cuckoo H. pectoralis, Whistling 
Hawk Cuckoo H. nisicolor and Javan Hawk Cuckoo H.fugax (Payne 1997, in press, 
King 2002); and Asian Lesser Cuckoo C. poliocephalus and Madagascar Lesser 
Cuckoo C. rochii (Becking 1988, Payne in press). 

In owls, voice has often been of major importance in the assessment of taxonomic 
rank. The classic study by Marshall (1978) on small Asian owls, in which he classified 
taxa with dissimilar vocalisations as separate species and, conversely, taxa with 
similar vocalisations as conspecific, led to a multitude of taxonomic rearrangements. 
For example, he suggested species status for no fewer than seven scops owls (genus 
Otus) that had previously been treated as subspecies. Other studies on the voices of 
Asian scops owls have been important in resolving taxonomic matters, and have 
further increased the number of recognised species (Roberts & King 1986, Marshall 
& King 1988, Becking 1994, Lambert & Rasmussen 1998). 

Another example is that all the taxa previously associated with Otus rutilus of 
Madagascar have been shown to differ in voice (and morphology), and have been 
suggested to be treated as separate species: O. moheliensis (Lafontaine & Moulaert 
1998), O. capnodes (Safford 1993), O. pauliani (Herremans et al. 1991), O. [n] 
mayottensis (Lewis 1998), O. madagascariensis and O. rutilus (Rasmussen et al. 
2000b). Chappuis (1974-1985) and Morel & Chappuis (1992) suggested that 
European Scops Owl O. scops and African Scops Owl O. senegalensis should be 
considered separate species based on differences in voice. 

The Least Pygmy Owl Glaucidium minutissimum, which is widely distributed in 
South America, was formerly treated as a polytypic species. However, Howell & 
Robbins (1995) analysed vocalisations and in conjunction with morphology and 
other evidence suggested that it ought to be treated as four separate species. 

PerAlstrom & Richard Ranfi 1 1 9 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Vocalisations have been used extensively in taxonomic revisions of nightjars. 
For example, Jerdon's Nightjar Caprimulgus atripennis, Sulawesi Nightjar C. 
celebensis and Philippine Nightjar C. manillensis were all split from Large-tailed 
Nightjar C. macrurus because of their distinctive vocalisations (Mees 1985, Ripley 
& Beehler 1987, Rozendaal 1990). Likewise, Tawny-collared Nightjar C. salvini, 
Yucatan Nightjar C. badius and Silky-tailed Nightjar C. sericocaudatus have been 
judged to be specifically different on the basis of differences in voice (Hardy & 
Straneck 1989). Conversely, Dowsett & Dowsett-Lemaire (1993) pointed out that 
the songs of Fiery-necked Nightjar C. pectoralis and Black-shouldered Nightjar C. 
nigriscapularis were similar, and suggested that these should be treated as conspecific. 
They also showed that the taxa ruwenzorii (Ruwenzori Nightjar), guttifer (Usambara 
Nightjar) and poliocephalus (Abyssinian Nightjar), which have at one time or another 
been considered separate species, are best treated as conspecific, under the name 
Montane Nightjar C. poliocephalus, owing to basically similar vocalisations. (It 
should, however, be noted that Cleere [1995], also using vocal characters, disagreed 
with this assessment.) 

Voice has been important in the assessment of species status of a taxon that is 
believed to be extinct in the wild: Grayson's Dove Zenaida graysoni from Socorro 
Island south-west of Baja California (Baptista et al. 1983). It was established that 
the voice (and visual display) of this bird differ significantly from the Mourning 
Dove Z. macroura, with which it has often been considered to be conspecific. It was 
also noted that it only rarely interbreeds with Mourning Dove in captivity. 

Vocalisations have been used to assess the taxonomic rank in other doves. The 
insular endemic Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi was shown to differ vocally (as well 
as morphologically) from the closely related continental Grey-fronted Dove L. 
rufaxilla (Blockstein & Hardy 1989). Playback tests were also of importance in this 
re-evaluation. Chappuis (1974-1985) and Morel & Chappuis (1992) showed that 
the vocalisations of the morphologically closely similar Eurasian Collared Dove 
Streptopelia decaocto and African Collared Dove S. roseogrisea differ markedly, 
and proposed species status for them. 

Pittas Pittidae have loud, relatively simple songs which have been used (in 
conjunction with especially morphology) to show that the mainly allopatric Fairy 
Pitta Pitta nympha, Blue-winged Pitta P. moluccensis, Indian Pitta P. brachyura and 
Mangrove Pitta P. megarhynchus are best treated as separate species (Lambert 1996, 
Lambert & Woodcock 1996). 

The Neotropical Tyrannidae include many species that are poorly differentiated 
morphologically, and vocalisations have often been of great importance in the 
recognition of species. Lanyon (1978) used vocalisations and playback tests 
extensively in his monumental revision of the genus Myiarchus, because he was 
'convinced that the use of vocal characters, in conjunction with more conventional 
morphological characters, would be the key to any successful attempt to determine 
specific limits and relationships within the genus'. He proposed several taxonomic 
rearrangements based on this research. 

PerAlstrom & Richard Ranfi 120 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii and Alder Flycatcher E. alnorum were 
formerly considered conspecific, but Stein (1958, 1963) showed that they differed 
in vocalisations and other aspects, did not respond to playback of each other's songs 
and were partly sympatric. Similarly, studies of vocalisations together with 
morphology and allozymes showed that the Western Flycatcher E. difficilis of western 
North America was in fact two separate, partly sympatric, species: Pacific-slope 
Flycatcher E. difficilis and Cordilleran Flycatcher E. occidentalis (Johnson 1980, 
Johnson 1994). 

The species in the South American suboscine genus Scytalopus (tapaculos) are 
extremely similar in plumage and structure, and are very secretive and difficult to 
observe (e.g. Fjeldsa & Krabbe 1990, Ridgely & Tudor 1994). Until recently, their 
classification was based on comparative studies of museum specimens (Zimmer 
1939, Peters 1951). A review by Krabbe & Schulenberg (1997) using vocalisations 
(in combination with morphology and distribution) led to a virtual 'explosion' of 
species, from 11 recognised by Zimmer and Peters to no fewer than 37. Three of 
these, Choco Tapaculo S. chocoensis, Ecuadorian Tapaculo S. robbinsi and Chusquea 
Tapaculo S. parked, were new to science, and an additional two or three were 
considered to be undescribed. Several of the species were shown to be sympatric. 
Krabbe & Schulenberg classified allopatric taxa with unique songs as species, an 
approach that was supported by DN A data presented by Arctander & Fjeldsa ( 1 994). 

The use of vocalisations has led to the recognition of many South American 
Thamnophilidae and Formicariidae as species. For example, Isler et al. (1997) 
suggested that the widely distributed polytypic Slaty Antshrike Thamnophilus 
punctatus is better treated as at least six separate allospecies; Isler et al. (1999) 
argued that Streaked Antwren Myrmotherula surinamensis should be treated as four 
species; and Whitney et al. (2000) concluded that the Black-capped Antwren 
Herpsilochmus pileatus complex consists of three species, of which one, Caatinga 
Antwren H. sellowi, was previously undescribed because it had been confused with 
pileatus for almost a century. 

The Bengal Bushlark Mirafra assamica was previously treated as a polytypic 
species ranging from India to Sri Lanka and Vietnam. However, Alstrom (1998) 
showed that there are pronounced differences in songs, calls and song-flights (as 
well as morphological differences, and in one case in habitat) between four allopatric 
taxa. Based on this, he proposed that they be treated as four separate species. 

Bicknell's Thrush Catharus bicknelli has received much interest lately, because 
it has been shown to differ from Grey-cheeked Thrush C. minimus (with which it 
was formerly considered conspecific) in a number of aspects, including song (and 
lack of response to playback to two other subspecies of Grey-cheeked Thrush, 
minimus and aliciae) (Ouellet 1993). 

Old World warblers are renowned for being morphologically poorly differentiated, 
although the species usually differ more clearly by their songs. This was noted more 
than 200 years ago, when White (1789) remarked that T have now, past dispute, 
made out three distinct species of the willow-wrens {motacillce trochili) which 

Per Alstrom & Richard Ranft 1 2 1 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

constantly and invariably use distinct notes.' He was referring to Willow Warbler 
Phylloscopus trochilus, Common Chiffchaff P. collybita and Wood Warbler P. 
sibilatrix, of which only the first had at that time been named. In fact, in the genus 
Phylloscopus (leaf warblers) in Eurasia excluding the Philippines, Greater Sundas 
and Wallacea, the number of recognised species went up by 31% in the last decade, 
and in all except two species, songs were important in the assessment of their 
taxonomic rank (Irwin et al. 2001). Two examples are given below. 

Pallas 's Warbler P. proregulus used to be considered a wide-ranging polytypic 
species, breeding in Siberia, northern Mongolia and north-east China (nominate 
proregulus); central China and the Himalayas west to central Nepal (subspecies 
chloronotus); and western Himalayas (subspecies simlaensis); a fourth taxon, 
kansuensis, from northern central China, was treated as a synonym of either 
proregulus or chloronotus. First, Alstrom & Olsson (1990) proposed that proregulus 
and chloronotus/ simlaensis should be treated as two separate species based on 
pronounced differences in vocalisations and lack of response to playback of each 
other's songs. Subsequently, Alstrom et al (1997) pointed out that kansuensis also 
differed considerably in vocalisations from the others, and did not respond to playback 
of their songs, and concluded that it ought to be treated as a separate species. 
Meanwhile, Alstrom et al. (1992) found a species with unique vocalisations that 
was sympatric with chloronotus in central China (differing also in morphology, habitat 
choice and nest site). It was described as a new species, Chinese Leaf Warbler P. 
sichuanensis, though it was later realised that this name was pre-dated by yunnanensis 
(Martens & Eck 1995, P. Alstrom & U. Olsson unpublished). 

The taxonomy of the Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita complex has 
received much attention in recent years. It was formerly considered a single polytypic 
species, although extensive studies of its vocalisations and other data (e.g. Martens 
& Hanel 1981, Martens 1982, Salomon 1987, 1989, Martens & Meincke 1989, Helbig 
et al. 1996) have led to the suggestion that at least four species ought to be recognised: 
Common Chiffchaff P. collybita, Iberian Chiffchaff P. brehmii, Canary Islands 
Chiffchaff P. canariensis and Mountain Chiffchaff P. sindianus, leaving the 
relationships of the Siberian taxon tristis unresolved (Helbig et al. 1996). These 
taxa are allopatric, except for Mountain and Common Chiff chaffs, which occur 
together in western Asia, and the latter meets Iberian Chiffchaff in a narrow zone in 
the Pyrenees. Hansson et al. (2000) showed that Swedish populations of Common 
Chiffchaff of the subspecies collybita and abietinus responded more strongly to 
song of their own than to the other subspecies and, based on other differences such 
as habitat choice, they predicted that there would be only limited hybridisation if 
these taxa met in the future. 

The Golden-spectacled Warbler was until recently treated as a single polytypic 
species, Seicercus burkii, with a wide distribution in mountains of southern Asia 
(mainly the Himalayas and China). Alstrom & Olsson (1999, 2000) and Martens et 
al. (1999) demonstrated that this is actually a complex of no fewer than six sibling 
species, with up to four occurring at different altitudes on the same mountain (two, 

PkrAlstwm & Richard Ranfi 122 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

S. soror and S. omeiensis, were previously undescribed: see above). Differences in 
vocalisations and playback tests were of major importance in the elucidation of this 

Song has been used extensively in the classification of African cisticolas Cisticola, 
both to split and to lump taxa (e.g. North 1964, Chappuis 1974, 1980, Erard 1974, 
Morel & Chappuis 1992). Keith & Gunn (1971), Chappuis (1974-1985), Chappuis 
(1980) and Morel & Chappuis (1992) used vocalisations to review the taxonomy of 
some apalis Apalis species. 

One remarkable case where possible cryptic species were revealed by their 
vocalisations is the study of North American Common (Red) Crossbill Loxia 
curviwstra sensu lato by Groth (1988, 1993a,b). He (1988, 1993a) studied a large 
number of individuals from across the continent, and correlated sonograms of calls 
with measurements of the same individuals. Based on these variables, the birds 
clustered into eight different groups. Several of these are sympatric, e.g. six in the 
Pacific Northwest. Strong assortative mating was shown to occur in two different 
populations in the Appalachians (1993b). He concluded (1993a) that 'L. curviwstra 
is a group of sibling species' but, owing to the morphological similarity and overlap 
in measurements, he was unable to assign names to all of these species. The American 
Ornithologists' Union (1998) recognised only one species but interpreted Groth's 
results as indicating the probable existence of at least nine different species in North 
America. Studies of vocalisations by Robb (2000) have suggested that there may be 
cryptic species of crossbills also in Europe. 

Some of the most amazing discoveries involving vocalisations involve the African 
indigobirds Vidua (e.g. Nicolai 1964, Payne 1968, 1973, 1976, 1982, 1990, 1998, 
Payne & Payne 1994, 1995, Payne et al. 1992, 1993; see above). Although most 
indigobird species are morphologically poorly differentiated, their songs are often 
markedly different. This insight has led to the recognition of several 'forms' as distinct 
species (all 10 indigobird species now recognised were at one time or another 
considered to be either subspecies or colour morphs of Village Indigobird V. 
chalybeate or overlooked). 

Crows Corvus are morphologically relatively poorly differentiated, but their 
voices are often clearly different. Vocalisations have been of major importance in 
the classification of the North American species American Crow C. 
brachyrhynchos, North-western Crow C. caurinus, Tamaulipas Crow C. imparatus, 
Sinaloa Crow C. sinaloae and Fish Crow C. ossifragus (Brooks 1942, Davis 1958, 
Hardy 1990). 

Use of vocalisations in inferring relationships 

Although vocalisations have mainly been used to answer questions of species status, 
some authors have used voice to judge relationships among species. In a few cases, 
features of songs and calls have been used as characters to infer phylogenetic 


PerAlstrom & Richard Ranft 123 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Bretagnolle (1995) compared the vocalisations of several different Pterodroma 
species and drew conclusions about their relationships based on the similarities and 
dissimilarities between them. 

The calls of downy Anatidae young were analysed by Kear (1968), who concluded 
that they had phylogenetic information. The shape and frequency range of the distress 
call tended to be similar in closely related species and to be more divergent in more 
distantly related ones. For example, she remarked that the call of White-backed 
Duck Thalassornis leuconotus, whose taxonomic position had been in doubt, was 
'very like those of Dendwcygna and quite unlike the distress call of Oxyura . A 
recent phylogenetic analysis (McCracken et al. 1999) confirms that Thalassornis is 
not closely related to Oxyura, but also suggests that the similarity between 
Thalassornis and Dendwcygna is due to retention of ancestral character states in the 

Andersson (1973, 1999) studied calls and displays of skuas (Stercorariini) and 
concluded that some of these are synapomorphies (shared derived characters) for 
Great Skua Stercorarius skua and Pomarine Skua S. pomarinus — supporting the 
controversial but now well-supported (see Andersson 1999) view that the latter is 
more closely related to the large skuas (which are often placed in the genus 
Catharacta) rather than to the smaller Arctic S. parasiticus and Long-tailed Skua S. 

Miller (1996) used characteristics of nuptial vocalisations to infer relationships 
among Pluvialis plovers and some Calidris sandpipers. He also concluded that 
'acoustic characters seem to have great potential for resolving species relationships 
at various levels' in Gallinago snipes and Charadrius plovers. 

Acoustic data were used by Winkler & Short (1978) to infer relationships among 
pied woodpeckers (Picoides/Dendrocopos). In many cases, their analysis 
corroborated previous studies (e.g. the probable monophyly of the New World group). 
In other cases the vocal data were in conflict with other evidence (e.g. Middle Spotted 
Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius was considered to be more distantly related to 
White-backed Woodpecker D. leucotos than previously thought, and the same applied 
to Black-backed Picoides arcticus and Three-toed P. tridactylus Woodpeckers). 

Vocalisations were used to determine probable relationships of some antwrens 
in the genus Myrmotherula (Whitney & Pacheco 1997). Based partly on vocalisations, 
Whitney (1992) suggested that Bicoloured Antvireo Thamnomanes occidentalis be 
placed in the genus Dysithamnus instead. Whitney & Pacheco (1994) also used 
vocalisations in discussing the affinities of the little-known monotypic genera 
Gyalophylax and Megaxenops. 

Songs, calls and display flight were used in addition to other data to show the 
close relationship between Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotii, endemic to the Canary 
Islands and Madeira, and Tawny Pipit A. campestris (Alstrom & Mild 1993), a 
circumstance later corroborated by molecular data (Arctander et al. 1996, Voelker 

RerAlstrdm & Richard Ranfi 124 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

King ( 1 989) showed that the different species in the genera Tesia and Urosphena 
clustered in two groups according to characteristics of their songs. Based on this (in 
conjunction with other behavioural and morphological differences) he proposed a 
new classification of these genera. 

The relationships of various treecreepers Certhia have been discussed based on 
their vocalisations (Martens 1981, Martens & Geduldig 1988), and the affinities of 
Brown Creeper C. americana to Short-toed Treecreeper C. brachydactyla and 
Eurasian Treecreeper C. familiaris have recently been studied using sounds (Baptista 
& Krebs 2000). 

The Black-collared Bulbul Neolestes torquatus from the Afrotropics has variously 
been treated as a bulbul (Pycnonotidae) or a shrike (Malaconotidae, Laniidae or 
Prionopidae). A recent investigation (Dowsett etal. 1999) used vocalisations (together 
with morphology and DNA) in support of the view that it is not a shrike, but most 
closely related to bulbuls. 

Payne (1986) stated that 'similarities in song quality may express genetic 
similarities' even in species in which song is learned, and accordingly may be of use 
in phylogenetic analyses. He used vocal characters to reconstruct the phylogeny of 
the Black-throated Green Warbler Dendroica virens complex. Since his tree was 
largely congruent with a previous hypothesis of relationships (Mengel 1964), he 
concluded that 'the distribution of song traits among species indicates that cultural 
changes may have followed the same branching events as in the genetic differentiation 
of the species'. 

Characteristics of song were also used by Stein (1968) to analyse relationships 
among North American Vermivora warblers. 

The role of bird sound archives 

Modern studies on bird vocalisations would have been impossible without the 
collecting of sound recordings, yet, in comparison with the collecting of physical 
specimens, the means to do so have been available only recently. The first recording 
of any bird (a captive White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus) was made in 
Germany in 1889, and the first recording of a wild bird was made in England in 
1900, on wax cylinders (Boswall 1969). However, it has only been in the past 40 
years, long after the invention of electrical amplification and with the development 
of new recording technologies and the wider availability of portable, battery-operated 
tape-recorders, directional microphones and parabolic reflectors, that recording in 
the field has become truly practicable. Further refinements in recording techniques 
and equipment since then means that birds in any environment around the world can 
now be recorded relatively easily with high-quality equipment that is modestly priced, 
portable and reliable. 

In the pre-recording era, the value of vocalisations for identifying and classifying 
birds was well known. But a far more detailed scrutiny of bird sounds has become 
possible with technological advances. Sound recordings have multiple applications, 

Per Alstrom & Richard Ranft 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

not only in taxonomic research: they reveal the structure of sounds, and facilitate 
their description and comparison between different populations and species, while 
playback experiments can test reactions of birds to answer questions about song 
function, or to identify and draw out hidden birds for identification in faunal surveys 
(Johnston et al 1981, Parker 1991) as well as identifying individual birds (e.g. 
McGregor 1992). Recordings are used by birdwatchers and field researchers for 
familiarisation of species' diagnostic sounds, a key factor in efficiently determining 
their ranges in a short time-frame (Parker 1991); to help trap birds for ringing and 
relocation projects; to help deter pest species from urban areas, agricultural crops 
and airports; in educational programmes in museum and zoo exhibitions, audio and 
multimedia publications and websites, and in television and radio broadcasts. 

The emerging science of bioacoustics received a boost after Thorpe's (1954) use 
of the sound spectrograph to analyse and compare Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs songs. 
Originally developed as a speech aid for the deaf (Potter et al. 1947), the sound 
spectrograph allowed more rapid and objective description and comparison of bird 

The first archive of bird sounds was formed from a collection originally started 
in 1932 at Cornell University in the USA (Gulledge 1979). There are now numerous 


Major institutional bird sound archives, based upon Kettle (1989) with updated figures 

from archive curators (in litt.). 



Number of 


Collection strengths 


bird species 



of bird 

Macaulay Library 

Cornell University, 





of Natural Sounds 

New York state, USA 

especially neotropics 

British Library National 

London, England 





Sound Archive 


Humboldt University, 
Berlin, Germany 




Central Europe, 

FitzPatrick Bird 

Transvaal Museum, 





Communication Library 

Pretoria, South Africa 

Australian National 

CSIRO, Lyneham, 





Wildlife Collection 


Sound Library 

Borror Laboratory of 

Ohio State University, 







Florida Museum of 

Florida, USA 




USA and neotropics 

Natural History 

Arquivo Sonoro 

Campinas University, 






Sao Paulo, Brazil 

PaAlsnom & Richard Ranfi 126 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

institutional collections worldwide (Kettle 1989; see also Frommolt 1996, Nelson 
& Gaunt 1997. Ranft 1997); however, only the eight largest collections (Table 1), 
which altogether hold around half a million recordings, receive public funding to 
ensure the long-term preservation of and access to the recordings in their care. These 
collections have been built up mainly through the donations from many scientists 
and recordists, and they represent many hundreds of thousands of hours of work in 
the field. As with traditional museum collections of bird skins, they are invaluable 
especially for comparative studies between individuals, populations and species 
where it is often impossible for one person to replicate, even in a lifetime of work, 
the dedicated efforts of so many collectors of sounds. 

The rapid growth in systematic collections of bird sound recordings has been 
encouraging and the value of this material is now widely appreciated (Parker 1991, 
Kroosdma et al 1996). Some of the challenges these collections are faced with are 
discussed below. 

( 1 ) There is an urgent need to add many more recordings to these collections. 
Comparative studies of bird sounds usually require a large sample of recordings 
from different localities. Yet even for well-recorded species there are many gaps in 
geographical range (see, e.g., Kroodsma et al. 1996). As expected, the tropical regions 
are the most inadequately covered, with many species represented by few recordings 
often from a single, well-studied site, or by single recordings from widely scattered 
localities or even simply by a single recording. Many recordings exist in private 
collections without adequate access or long-term preservation (Kroodsma etal 1996, 
Harrington 1997). To deal with all the extra recordings, however, requires a substantial 
effort on the part of the recordists, and of course a commitment of resources by the 
archives, some of which are seriously underfunded. Publishing recordings on cassettes 
and CDs or on the internet is a useful way to make them widely accessible but this 
is not a solution to their long-term availabilty: recordists should be urged to commit 
their recordings to archival facilities. 

The vocalisations and behaviour of many species of bird, especially tropical 
songbirds, are so poorly known that it may be difficult to judge whether variation 
between individuals or populations is of taxonomic significance or merely indicative 
of a rich repertoire. Large samples of recordings can help assess such variation. An 
analysis of the catalogues from the major sound collections, and many other smaller 
private collections, reveals that there are no recordings at all of around 940 species 
of bird, or nearly 10% of the total. Over 100 of the missing species are hummingbirds 
(Trochilidae). For taxa currently treated as subspecies, the situation is much worse. 
For example, based primarily on morphological differences, Collar & van Balen 
(2002) suggested that the Blue-tailed Trogon Apalharpactes reinwardti is better 
treated as two species, Javan Trogon A. reinwardti and Sumatran Trogon A. mackloti; 
the Javan form apparently lacks the distinctive song of the Sumatran one, but the 
paucity of recordings from Java meant that vocalisations were not conclusive in 
supporting the rearrangement. Similarly, Garrido etal. (2002) judged the Hispaniolan 
and Cuban forms of Grey-headed Quail Dove Geotrygon caniceps to be sufficiently 

Per Alstrom & Richard Ranft 127 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

different morphologically to be treated as different species, but they lacked examples 
of the song of the Hispaniola race to support their contention. 

(2) Recordings need to be of the highest technical quality to be of full value for 
analysis. C. Chappuis (in litt.) has remarked that the speed of cassette recorders is 
often wrong, and suggested that a reference sound (e.g. from a tuning fork) should 
be recorded in the field. A frequent problem when making sonograms of recordings 
is that the sounds of interest are obscured by background noise, or reverberation 
from vegetation. Recordings should ideally be made with the microphone as close 
as possible to the subject, using well-maintained professional audio recording 
equipment. Nevertheless, a great deal of useful information can often be extracted 
from a poor recording. For example, computer techniques have improved the quality 
of a unique recording of the almost extinct Slender-billed Curlew Numenius 
tenuirostris that was otherwise nearly obliterated by a louder and similar song of a 
Eurasian Curlew N. arquata (Chappuis 2000). Further advice on recording can be 
obtained from the major sound archives. 

(3) The paucity of collection data associated with each recording needs to be 
addressed. A recording must be accompanied with data collected at the time it was 
made, including locality, time of day, date and other details. The more complete the 
data, the more applications the recording will have for future researchers. As with 
skin collections, missing or insufficient locality data in bioacoustic collections can 
reduce their value. Efforts have been made recently to encourage the standardisation 
of data collection (see Kettle & Vielliard 1991, Bradbury et al. 1999). 

(4) Certain identification of the species involved is required. Few sound recordings 
are associated with skin specimens, so that corroboration of their identity depends 
either on the skills of the original recordist or matching against known reference 
recordings, which may of course also be unreliable (see, e.g., Payne 1973a, 1982, 
1998 for recordings linked to museum specimens). There are several instances of 
rare recordings that were for some years archived as authoritative recordings and 
published as such, only later to be found to have been misidentified. For example, a 
recording of the Boreal Owl Aegolius funereus erroneously attributed to Northern 
Hawk Owl Surnia ulula was published in several American and Swedish identification 
guides in the period 1960-1980 (Hardy et al 1989). Similarly, Wahlstrom (1968) 
revealed that a recording made in 1948 and published several times in Europe until 
1968 as the voice of Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla was in fact that of Little Crake 
P. parva. 

(5) Sound archives need to be able to share and make more widely available 
their collections. All the largest archives can provide basic inventories of their 
holdings. But so far just two archives, the Borror Laboratory and The British Library's 
National Sound Archive, have their full catalogues on the internet (see http:// and These 
catalogues contain full details about recordings, but not the actual sounds. Sound 
recordings can be easily replicated and distributed over digital networks such as the 
internet, and several audio archives are presently implementing the means to enable 

PcrAhrrom & Richard Ranfl 128 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

worldwide direct access to at least parts of their collections over the internet. A 
Large-scale roll-out of these collections depends on the resolution of technical and 
copyright issues, in particular achieving the right balance between safeguarding the 
unauthorised use of recordings and providing unrestricted access, and allowing access 
to sounds over a worldwide web that is currently too slow for rapid distribution of 
high-quality audio files. 

Discussion and conclusions 

We have firmly established that acoustic signals have been of great use in a wide 
range of birds in (1) the discovery of new species, (2) the assessment of taxonomic 
rank of allopatric taxa under the biological species concept (Mayr 1942) and (3) 
phylogenetic analyses. The importance of vocalisations in the discovery of new 
species is now widely acknowledged, and it seems likely that more sibling species 
will be discovered in the future as a result of thorough vocal analyses, especially in 
geographical areas that have been poorly surveyed. However, it seems unlikely that 
such discoveries will substantially increase the total number of bird species. 

By contrast, growing knowledge of the vocalisations of different taxa (which is 
largely due to the increased use of tape-recorders and sound analysis software, and 
the greater ease of travel in recent years), in combination with the current trend to 
afford species status to allopatric taxa with distinctive vocalisations, will probably 
produce a steady increase in the number of recognised species. A large proportion of 
all bird taxa (estimated at 27,000-28,000 by Mayr & Gerloff 1994) is poorly known 
with respect to their vocalisations, and the taxonomic status of many of these will 
undoubtedly be re-evaluated when their voices become better known. It is thus vital 
that more taxa are tape-recorded, especially those that are currently treated as 
subspecies, and that recordings are properly documented, curated and made 

All bird species produce sounds (even the New World vultures Cathartidae, which 
lack a syrinx, make functional sounds). Songs, in particular, are usually fairly loud 
and hence can be detected and recorded from a distance without disturbance. For 
birds that are difficult to observe, i.e. nocturnal or cryptic species, or those occurring 
in dense habitats such as forests and reedbeds, recordings may be the only convenient 
method of data collection. The usefulness of recordings in systematic research has 
increased in recent years since (a) recordings are relatively easy and cheap to collect, 
preserve, replicate and share; (b) there is an existing extensive dataset of bird 
recordings in sound archives to draw upon; and (c) tools such as computer software 
for sound analysis are now cheap and widely available. 

There is still a need to refine and standardise the methodology for employing 
sound recordings as a systematist's tool. Such an attempt was made by Isler et at. 
(1998), who analysed vocalisations of eight syntopic, similar-looking and similar- 
sounding antbird species (Thamnophilidae). Based on this, they proposed that when 
deciding the rank of allopatric antbird taxa, three diagnosable vocal characters (the 
minimum number that distinguished the syntopic pairs in the study) should be used 

Per Alstrom & Richard Ranft 129 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

as a point of reference. They recommended that for taxa that are very poorly 
differentiated in other respects, more than three vocal characters are required to 
allow classification as species, whereas for taxa that differ strongly in other ways, 
fewer vocal characters may suffice. 

Finally, sounds alone should not be used in making taxonomic decisions. However, 
they can be a first pointer to the field ornithologist to gather additional evidence 
such as further morphological, DNA or behavioural data, and these data can then be 
used in conjunction in taxonomic revisions. 


We are indebted to Claude Chappuis, Nigel Collar, Robert B. Payne, Fredrik Ronquist and Bret Whitney 
for their valuable comments on the manuscript, to Vincent Bretagnolle, Robert J. Dowsett, Alain Guimond, 
Alan Knox, Lars Larsson, Pamela C. Rasmussen and Kees Roselaar for suggesting some useful references 
for us, or for checking certain parts of the text, and to Effie Warr for much help with references throughout 
the preparation of this paper. 


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Stein, R. C. 1963. Isolating mechanisms between populations of Traill's Flycatcher. Proc. Amer. Phil. 

Soc. 107: 21-50. 
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Vermivora (Parulidae). Vogelwelt Beihefte, 1. Verhalten und Lautausserungen: 139-146. 
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und nordamerikanischen Bekassine Gallinago gallinago. Orn. Beobachter 66: 6-13. 
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spectrograph. Nature 173: 465-469. 
Vielliard, J. 1995. Phylogeny of bioacoustic parameters in birds. Bioacoustics 6: 171-174. 
Voelker, G. 1999. Molecular evolutionary relationships in the avian genus Anthus (pipits: Motacillidae). 

Mol Phylogenet. Evol. 11: 84-94. 
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Addresses: Per Alstrom, Department of Systematic Zoology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala 
University, Norbyvagen 18 D, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden. E-mail:; Richard 
Ranft, British Library, National Sound Archive, Wildlife Section, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 
2DB, U.K. Email: 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 1 36 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Museums on paper: 
library & manuscript resources 

by C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 


A natural history museum collection typically houses a great deal of paper-based material 
(additional to specimen labels) that may directly or indirectly relate to specimen material 
in its own, or other, establishments. This material may be of great value to the study of 
natural history and the promotion of conservation. Amongst the documentation most useful 
in ornithology are field and museum labels, field notes and reports, itineraries, diaries, 
letters, stock books, annotations in catalogues, and captive breeding records. Among the 
figurative materials of great potential value are field sketches, drawings and photographs, 
any of which may relate to the history of a specimen, species or habitat. We exemplify 
these uses and values, drawing on cases involving mainly rare or extinct species (in order 
of appearance: Vanellus macropterus, Amaurocichla bocagei, Diaphorapteryx hawkinsi, 
Psephotus pulcherrimus, Pinguinus impennis, Cistothorus platensis, Calidris ferruginea, 
Haliaeetus albicilla, Melopsittacns undulatus, Rhodonessa caryophyllacea, Sceloglaux 
albifacies, Rallus nigra, Janthoenas godmani, Cuculus poliocephalus, Sitta longirostris 
and Tympanuchus cupido). However, paper-based museum resources also have great 
potential for such studies as those which help delineate the extent and nature of population 
declines in common birds. These resources need to be better known by and more accessible 
to scholars. 


Most people think of museums solely as repositories for three-dimensional specimens 
(such as Greek pots, Roman coins or bird skins) and two-dimensional works of art 
on canvas and paper. In fact, there are many other items on paper that are just as 
important to preserve. Museums — including natural history museums — often house 
considerable collections of paper-based material. These collections can be broadly 
divided into archival matter (paper which the institution itself has produced, such as 
foundation documents, stock books, correspondence files, biographical information, 
photographic records of staff and events, records of financial matters), manuscripts 
(written items considered worth preserving in their own right) and works of art on 
paper. Large museums (such as the Natural History Museum in London, the Australian 
Museum in Sydney, or Naturalis in Leiden) have large departments of library and 
archive services to look after such material, and the curatorial staff regard these 
departments as a core function of their institution. 

The preservation of original paper-based material relating to ornithology — 
whether writing, picture or photograph — is just as important as biological material 
for the study, particularly historical, of birds. Such records are especially useful for 
the safe keeping of knowledge about those species that are now extinct or endangered, 
and in many cases provide the only record of extinct species. All biological bird 
material is to a considerable degree devalued if it is dissociated from originally 
accompanying (or, indeed, subsequently provided) written, drawn or photographic 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 1 37 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

material. In this paper we identify and illustrate some of the types of contribution to 
ornithology and conservation made by the paper archives maintained by museums. 

Written material 

Amongst the written materials most useful in ornithology are: field and museum 
labels, field notes and reports, itineraries, diaries, letters, stock books and annotations 
in catalogues, and captive breeding records. In this essay we largely assume the 
crucial importance of ensuring the permanent attachment and good condition of 
original specimen labels as a means of verifying and evaluating specimen material, 
but we do allude to cases which demonstrate this particular truth. It is also to be 
noted that the preservation and improvement of label condition are well worthy of 
the close attention of the museum curatorial community. We also assume the obvious 
necessity of regarding biological field records as specimens in their own right, and 
would like to emphasise that when these are on computer, rather than on file cards, 
it is nevertheless both practical and precautionary to keep hard copies, since members 
of the public may not always have computer access at the time of their visit. 
Furthermore, we assume that the need for an accurate and detailed paper catalogue 
or register of all specimen material in a particular institution is acknowledged and 
understood (although it is apparent that the development of such documents into 
computerised format remains a challenge of very considerable dimensions, as it 
does for other paper-based materials). For the most part we use this essay to furnish 
some noteworthy examples of how paper-based materials have yielded significant 
pieces of information in ornithology. 

Field notes, L'Bartels on thejavan Lapwing 

Max E. G. B artels was a plantation owner on Java who had a great love of birds both 
in the wild and in the aviary. His detailed field notebooks, written between 1915 and 
1931, are held in the Rijksmuseum van Natuurilijke Historie (Naturalis), Leiden, 
the Netherlands. B artels 's notes include an account of the Javan Lapwing Vanellus 
macropterus, which is possibly now extinct. This is the only known field description 
of the species, without which absolutely nothing would otherwise be known about it 
in the living state. This account has been recently published (Collar et al. 2000) but 
some extracts follow: 

Xiphidiopterus cucullatus, Temm. 

The area of distribution of this Spurred Lapwing in Java is very restricted ... 
found . . . only in the extensive steppe-like swamps of the Sedari estuary and its 
tributaries, as well as... in the lowlands of the Tjitaroem delta and at Rawah 
Tangerang... [where] it is an everyday sight, impossible to miss... As they are 
clever and very cautious birds, they never dive-bomb people but instead they 
generally 'create a stink' at an appropriate distance. . . During the east monsoon. . . 
they undoubtedly prefer the patches where [Teki] grasses stay moist the longest. . . 
During the rainy season the birds keep to areas in the swamps which are relatively 
little flooded, since despite their long legs they prefer not to walk in open water 

( :. i: lusher & E E. Warr 


Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

like stilts. In the Tjitaroem delta they often busy themselves in wet cattle pasture 
at the borders of their normal foraging areas, which are densely overgrown swamps 
with rush/sedge and other shorter water plants... Their food consists mainly of 
water- or swamp-living insect larvae, water bugs, beetles, snails... and seed of 
aquatic plants... (Fig. 1). 


XIPH I :)IQ PT^U3 CUCrJIx\rJ3 . Term. 

Das Verbreit'i-H-s.-ebiet dieses 3po?.'en.>ie'bltzes 
Java let sear bes^hraakfc, ienn/Sraf iroh \"<\:\ blrihA* ani* 
In den welter, steppen&rtisen Snnpf<»i in i/uul'in-s^'biet, 

des Seuari and seiner Suflusse.s 
Siedewmgen dea -J 

nooh nle In srosse.rer Ansjahl ""'. e • 

*©lnen .....■■ illoh 

90 ist 9V - 

alltasliche 3r ;, :. 

: ^a:u;.'u- Hat ...... .'J M 


^ic:i a 

.n aen 



Figure 1 . Account of the Javan Lapwing, from Max Bartels' field notes (© Naturalis, Leiden). 

C. T. Fisher & F. E. Warr 1 39 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Field notes, 2: Correia and the Sao Tome Short-tail 

When working on Threatened birds of Africa and related islands (Collar & Stuart 
1985), N. J. Collar noticed that David Bannerman, in Birds of the Atlantic islands, 
made repeated reference to notes on species made by J. G Correia during collecting 
work he undertook for the American Museum of Natural History on the Azores and 
Cape Verdes. In 1928-1929 Correia had also collected on the islands of Sao Tome 
and Principe (Amadon 1953) — islands of immense importance to conservation yet 
in the early 1980s still virtually unknown biologically — so Collar (verbally 1999) 
made inquiries at AMNH whether. Correia had left any notes there on his work. 
Initially Mary LeCroy was unable to find anything, but eventually a typescript came 
to light in Dean Amadon's desk and was copied to Collar for his use. The value of 
this typescript is to some extent limited by the fact that Correia, understandably, 
was not entirely sure of what he was seeing, and so named the birds he saw in 
accordance with his sense of what they might be ('Yellow-bellied Flycatcher' and 
so on). Nevertheless, once these names can be identified with complete confidence, 
by relating dates in the typescript to dates on specimen labels, the manuscript has 
great potential to illuminate species' former abundance and habits. 

Perhaps the most remarkable entry in the typescript concerns Amaurocichla 
bocagei, to which Collar & Stuart (1985) gave the name Sao Tome Short-tail, since 
no-one then was very sure what it was (although the Abbe Rene de Naurois had just 
sent Collar a manuscript in which he proposed the possibility that the species was 
the Old World's only furnariid). At the time of Correia's visit, the bird was only 
known from three nineteenth-century specimens, and it was only by obtaining the 
dates of the specimens Correia collected and matching them to his notebook entries 
that it was possible to identify the subject of the entry. His entry for 4 December 
1928 (reproduced exactly as typed) show that the bird did indeed present a striking 
problem of taxonomic placement: 

No rain in the morning but dark weather; I went up to the Obo (forest) for my 
good luck I foudn two new birds to-day Rail, a new bird for me and for the 
residentes of these part of the island which told me that they as never seen such 
bird yet. The Rail is a very small bird the back is dully brown and the belly is 
ruffs brown very shirt tail but litle long legs with long toe too. I found its on the 
creek quite at the head of the Rio Quija, its was on the small stones in the centre 
of the creek looking for some thing among the sand, when I shot the first an other 
took a short flight and restd on a dry limb right among the stones so I shot it too. 
Its were male and famely. I shot one Yellow-belly, one Ossobo, and three large 
honey-eaters all in the Obo excpet the Ossobo. 

Of course the species is not a rail (it appears to be an aberrant sylviid). However, 
Correia's observations of its rail-like behaviour were an important insight into its 
ecology and helped guide researchers when they became the first people since Correia 
(and, at that time, the only others last century) to see the species in the wild (Atkinson 
et al 1991). 

C. T. Fisher & F E. Warr 1 40 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 


It is obviously imperative for collectors to keep accurate records of where and when 
specimens were collected in the field, and that these data are permanently attached 
to the specimen. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century specimens on the whole lack 
this depth of information, and it is often only by recourse to original diaries and 
expedition reports that information can be reunited with specimens. Conversely, 
labels with data can be very usefully employed to create a diary for an explorer 
where this does not exist, or has been lost. In the Victorian period, in particular, the 
custom was for dispersal of specimens from a particular expedition to museums 
around the world (in essence to whomsoever would pay for them). Databasing the 
locality and dates on these specimens, after searching them out in the many museums 
which contain good Victorian natural history collections, can give unexpectedly 
positive results. These are not only of biographical interest: Australians, for instance, 
have found the database and itinerary compiled by the Liverpool Museum about 
John Gilbert's travels in Australia between 1838 and 1845 (housed in computer 
form, as a card index and as numerous notes and photocopies, which indeed fill the 
shelves of one whole office) essential for confirming exactly where he had collected 
some of his rarest species (see below). In many cases a specimen with a missing or 
obscured collecting date can be checked against another with the same locality; 
conversely specimens with dates but no localities can be reunited with place names 
when compared to other specimens collected on the same day (Fig. 2). 

Rasmussen & Prys-Jones (2003, this issue) also refer (in their section 'Label 
substitution') to the use archival material can make in determining provenance of 
suspect material (e.g. Meek's 'Misima' material) and to the frustration of science 
that results from the loss of archival material (e.g. the ill-considered destruction of 
many of Rothschild's papers). 

Letters: Dannefaerd on the Giant Chatham Island Rail 

The Giant Chatham Island Rail Diaphorapteryx hawkinsi is only known from fossil 
bones first collected in 1 892 by W. Hawkins (for whom the bird is named). However, 
a letter (from Auckland, dated 21 February 1895) held in the Rothschild 
Correspondence archive at the Natural History Museum, London, from Sigvard 
Dannefaerd to his employer Walter Rothschild, includes unique observations on the 
living rail and other bird species that Dannefaerd gleaned second-hand during a 
visit to the native Chatham Island Morioris. The Giant Rail became extinct before 
the arrival of Europeans in the mid- 1800s, but obviously coexisted with the Moriori 
for some time. However, the abundance of its remains in Moriori middens indicates 
that it was frequently hunted as food, an interpretation corroborated emphatically 
by the information in Dannefaerd's letter. A full description of the letter and its 
significance is being prepared by Joanne Cooper of the Natural History Museum, 
Tring. as part of a wider survey of Rothschild's Chatham island collections. There is 
an artist's reconstruction of the Giant Chatham Rail in Gill & Martinson (1991: 
Figure 1 8), and a complete skeleton of a bird collected by Dannefaerd for Rothschild 
was illustrated in Andrews (1896: plate XII). 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 2. Part of John Gilbert's itinerary in Australia, reconstructed from specimen labels, letters, diaries 
and published accounts (from Fisher 1992, © NMGM). 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 142 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

This is not the only scientifically interesting letter amongst Dannefaerd's 
correspondence, which is also greatly revealing about how extensive Dannefaerd's 
previously unrecognised contribution to Rothschild's fossil collection was. 

Letters and field labels: Gould, Gilbert and the Paradise Parrot 

The Paradise Parrot Psephotus pulcherrimus was first collected on the Darling Downs 
of southern Queensland by John Gilbert, John Gould's collector in Australia, in 
May 1844. Gilbert wrote to tell Gould about his new bird, which is now thought to 
be extinct (Brooks 2000). The story of Gilbert's discovery is now known only because 
of the finding of two letters, the first in 1938. This was a draft 1 of Gould's reply to 
Gilbert's letter, found in an old trunk belonging to Gould's descendants. In this 
letter Gould exclaimed T am especially delighted about the new Platycercus . . .' 

Since then it has been suspected that Gould had used Gilbert's account, as 
contained in his original, but lost, letter, to help compose the type description of the 
Paradise Parrot (Gould 1845). Luckily, a copy of Gilbert's original letter was quite 
recently found in Liverpool City Libraries 2 (Fisher 1985) (Fig. 3). The copy was by 
the 13th Earl of Derby, an ardent amateur ornithologist, to whom Gould was hoping 
to sell some specimens of this spectacular new parrot — hence he had obviously lent 
Gilbert's letter to Lord Derby as an encouragement. Lord Derby was an inveterate 
copier of letters (many into copybooks, although this copy is loose) but was not 
always punctilious about returning them. It seems he never sent the original of 
Gilbert's letter back to Gould and it cannot now be found. This means Lord Derby's 
copy is the only record of the collection of the first specimens of this now extinct 
species, and confirms that Gilbert's description in the letter was used by Gould for 
the type description. In fact, most of the type description was lifted word-for-word 
from Gilbert's letter, as this extract demonstrates: 

I . . . seize the opportunity of writing to you a few observations. . . almost the first 
bird shot is a totally new parrot ... without exception the most beautiful of the 
whole tribe I have ever yet seen in Australia... the mingling of the beautiful 
shades of green, is its most conspicuous and beautiful character... it is in habits 
truly a grass-eating Parrot, assembling in small families and feeding in high 

Gould succeeded in selling two of Gilbert's specimens of the Paradise Parrot to 
Lord Derby. Both still have Gilbert's original field labels attached to them 3 . The 
hand-written collecting date on the label attached to one of these specimens predates 
Gilbert's letter. This bird, a fine male 4 , must therefore be considered to be from the 
original type series. The fact that it still has Gilbert's original label (Fig. 4) gives us 
locality detail missing from the designated type specimens in the Academy of Natural 
Sciences, Philadelphia, as most of these have had their original field labels removed. 
Gilbert's letter and label details, coupled with research which has pinpointed Gilbert's 
route and dates as he travelled through the Darling Downs (see 'Itineraries' and 
'Diaries'), means that the original location of the discovery of the Paradise Parrot 
can now be accurately recorded. 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 143 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

This shows how imperative it is for specimen labels to be carefully looked after. 
National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside (NMGM), recognising this fact, have 
started a programme of conserving bird skin labels, which are cleaned, mended and 
encapsulated in plastic sheaths before being re-attached (see Fig. 4). The conservation 
project is being undertaken by Paper Conservation staff of the Conservation Centre 
Division of NMGM, in conjunction with their Organics Conservation staff, who 


Figure 3. First page from Lord Derby's copy of John Gilbert's letter, in which Gilbert told John Gould 
about the discovery of the Paradise Parrot (© Liverpool City Libraries). 

C. T. Fisher & F E. Wart 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 4. Labels on Liverpool Museum's paratype of the Paradise Parrot, which include Gilbert's original 
collecting label. Note that all the labels have been encased in protective plastic (© NMGM). 

first repair the cabinet skin. In addition, they insert a dowelling rod into the skin to 
make a stronger base not only for the body, but for the attachment of legs and labels; 
these can be tied to the rod and extra stability provided by winding cotton round the 
legs and through a small drilled hole. 

Diaries: Gilbert on the Leichhardt Expedition 1844-1846 

The discovery of the Paradise Parrot can also be used to illustrate the importance of 
daily diaries, which were often kept by naturalists and explorers. Practically all that 
is known about the range of the Paradise Parrot in the 1840s has been extracted from 
the labels on John Gilbert's specimens and from remarks he made in his diary, begun 
during his solo expedition through the Darling Downs area from May 1844. His 
diary continued after he joined the Second Leichhardt Expedition. The expedition 
members aimed to cross Australia from southern Queensland to Port Essington, on 
the north-west coast; Gilbert was a member of the expedition from October 1844 to 
June 1 845, when he was killed by Aboriginals in northern Queensland (Fisher 1985). 

The Paradise Parrot is first mentioned when Gilbert collected specimens in the 
Condamine River area of the Darling Downs, but he also noted the bird several 
times in his diary as the Leichhardt Expedition travelled north through Expedition 
Range and up the Comet River. His last recorded sighting of it was in June 1845 at 
the Mitchell River, over 600 miles north of the Darling Downs, just before he was 
killed (Chisholm 1945, Fisher 1985). These diary entries extend the known range of 
the Paradise Parrot much further to the north than would otherwise have been 
suspected, and give conservationists a better chance of rediscovering this beautiful 
species, which was last seen in the wild in 1927 (Schodde & Tidemann 1986). 

Gilbert's diary is very difficult to read (Fig. 5), but it is remarkable that it survived 
at all. It was eventually returned to John Gould by Ludwig Leichhardt after the rest 

C. T. Fisher & E E. War 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 5. Page from Gilbert's diary from the 2 nd Leichhardt Expedition. This includes details of birds he 
prepared as skins, information which is not always on their labels (© Mitchell Library, Sydney). 

of his party, near starvation, finally reached the north-west coast. Gould never read 
Gilbert's diary properly, but it was passed down to Gould's descendants. It was 
eventually rediscovered by Australian journalist Alex Chisholm in 1938 (Chisholm 
1945) and is now in the Mitchell Library in Sydney 5 . It is presently being transcribed 
for publication, with Gilbert's comments on the birds he collected being matched 
(where possible) with the specimens that survive in several museums. This is only 
possible because many of these specimens still bear Gilbert's original field labels. 

Compilations: the Whistler-Ticehurst notes, and the Great Auk Scrapbook 

Natural historians interested in their subjects sometimes compile scrapbooks or 
working collections of notes. These often include unpublished material, or material 
that would otherwise most probably have been missed. 

Hugh Whistler and Claud Ticehurst compiled a huge collection of notes and 
illustrations for a proposed book on the birds of India, a project never fulfilled owing 
to their untimely deaths. They tried to gather together all the available information, 
which involved cutting and pasting published information and adding remarks of 
their own. The compilations were extensively used by Ali & Ripley in their own 
ten-volume Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan (1968-1974). They did not 
use all the information, however, and much unpublished material remains amongst 

C. T. Fisher &F.E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

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™ ■ 0th March. 1 oljo found a pair nesting m 

1 a Buparon the 18th December, and 

ed two eggs, one a.ldleil. and 

Peepul trt 

>l tlmt tin- 
■ bard-aet. 

Figure 6. A page from the Whistler-Ticehurst notes, with information on Pallas's Fish Eagle Haliaetus 
leucoryphm (© The Natural History Museum, London). 

C. T. Fisher & F. E. Wat 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

the Whistler-Ticehurst manuscripts. These are still used by visiting naturalists using 
the Ornithology Library at Tring, where they are now kept (Fig. 6). The page 
illustrated also shows the damage that rusting metal pins cause to manuscripts; 
librarians now use plastic, or plastic-coated, paper clips. 

The Great Auk Scrapbook is an unpublished single-copy compilation, originally 
from the library of Colonel Hanbury Barclay, who made a handwritten index of the 
contents. In 191 1 the scrapbook was sold at auction and it passed into the possession 
of Thomas Parkin, who continued the collection of printed papers, and added letters, 
press-cuttings and photographs concerning sales of Great Auk Pinguinus impennis 
relics. The Natural History Museum purchased the scrapbook in 1961 6 . This collection 
of published and unpublished snippets on the Great Auk has proved very useful to 
many researchers (Fig. 7). 

Annotated catalogues and associated manuscripts: Sharpe and Darwin 

Staff at the Natural History Museum have been trying to match all Charles Darwin's 
bird specimens that are now in their collections against his original field notebooks. 
The museum's published bird Catalogue (Sharpe 188 1 : 244-245) lists their specimens 
of Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis from the Falkland Islands. However, the 
annotations in the working library copy of this catalogue at the NHM's outstation at 
Tring 7 are much more revealing than the printed text, as details of several specimens 
have been added in manuscript in the opposite margin. These skins had been added 

Figure 7. The Barclay-Parkin Great Auk Scrapbook (© The Natural History Museum, London). 

C. T. Fisher & F E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


. <5 .. 



-A|in.U »r , . ( - i $-/(,. J4. 


i «d. 

( ty*. Buy)- '' 

Cistotliorns polyglottus, 

Figure 8. Manuscript annotations detailing additional specimens of Cistothorus platensis, opposite the 
printed list on Sharpe (1881), page 245 (© The Natural History Museum, London). 

to the NHM collections after the publication of Sharpe (1881). One of these 
annotations reads: 'K. ad m. ? [? presumably for unknown locality]. Darwin. Godman 
[= Godman-Salvin Collection]' (Fig. 8). This refers to specimen NHM 1885.3.6.480, 
which indeed gives very little information on the attached label. However, on cross- 
referencing against Darwin's Red Notebook (which is in the Fitzwilliam Museum at 
Cambridge, and has long been known to contain collecting details about his 
specimens), there are actually good field data for this specimen: '1053 B X Sylvia 
Falkland Islands ... lives in the coarse herbage, close to the ground ...' (Fig. 9). 
Thus the bird can now be relabelled with the correct location and with additional 
ecological detail. 

Eggs and texts: Pophatn and the Curlew Sandpiper, and eagle eggs 

The impossibility of attaching a label to an egg means that clutch cards and diary 
entries are crucial to the maintenance of key data on egg collections. Labels placed in 
the box with the clutch (or clutches) are easily lost or misplaced. Usually a small 
clutch code written on the egg is the only way to link it to the clutch card and its data. 
Hugh Popham (1864-1943) found the first authenticated nest-site of the Curlew 
Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea in 1897; these eggs and their clutch card are now in 
the NHM. His diaries were presented to the NHM in 1947, four years after the 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 149 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

March Falkland Islands 

1046 B X Emberiza. Falkland Islands [note opposite] I have seen 

these two constantly in the same flock.— They are by far the 
commonest land-bird in the Island.— [listed as Chlorospiza ? 
melanodera in Zoology 3:95-6] 

1047 B do (not shot with the last, but perhaps it is the male) 

1048 B Scolopax Falkland 

1049 I Coleoptera. Tierra del F, chiefly Hardy Peninsula 

1050 I Harpalidae. Falkland Island 

1051 I Ricinus from Scolopax (1048) 

1052 P Lichen common in mountain on the rocks. Tierra del F. 

1053 B X Sylvia Falkland Islands [note opposite] Beak & legs large 

in proportion, lives in the coarse herbage, close to the 
ground:— [with different pen] I never saw a bird so difficult 
to make to fly after marking it down within a few yards in 
open plain it could never <illeg.> [listed as ScytaJopus ~ T< ■-■■■' 
MaigeJtteamjS- Gray in Zoology 3:74; and see Ornithological Notes 
p. 213] ~K 

1055 P Excrescences or Fungi; edible; on the Beech same as in spirits 

(528) [Cyttaria darwinii. See Plant Notes p. 168] 

1056 P Junctions of Parasite bush with the Beech of Tierra del F. 

same as in spirits (532-534) 

1833 March 

1057 I Moth, on leaf of Black Currant bush. 6. Success B. 

1060 I X Harpal: (Sphodrus?) Falkland Island [note opposite] Was this 
insect imported or is it an original inhabitant 

I Harpal; abundant near coast. Falk: Isl. 

S Marine Shells. Wollaston Island & G Success Bay: the Balanus 

with crenated sections coats all the rocks at low water 


Figure 9. Page from the printed version of Darwin's Red Notebook, which includes information on 
'Sylvia, Falkland Islands' (= Cistothorus platensis) which does not exist on the specimen's label (© 
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge). 

eggs 8 . The clutch card reads: "Calidris ferruginea. Korsakoffski Is. Yenesei R., 
Siberia. [Collector] H. L. Popham. 3 July 1897. [Set Mark] 387. [No. of eggs] c/4. 
Shot bird off nest, notebook vol.1, exhibited B.O.C. 20.10.97 [see Bull. B.O.C. . 7 
(1897): 2]; first authentic eggs on record' (Fig. 10). 

The clutch card therefore includes information cross-referenced to one of Popham's 
original diaries, but these would not have been available to NHM staff when they first 
received the eggs. Popham's diary indeed has a long entry describing his discovery 
and collection of the contents of the Curlew Sandpiper nest, and also recounts how he 
collected the female parent. Of the eight Popham Curlew Sandpiper skins in the 
collections at Tring, three have their legs, with attached labels, detached. Popham's 
skinning technique obviously involved cutting the legs inside too low down the bone 
shaft, and not tying the bones together inside; thus the legs eventually fall out of the 
body. One of the three birds with detached legs is the female shot off the nest on 3 July 
1897 9 , but which one of the three skins belonged to which legs will now be impossible 
to say until genetic testing is more refined (and affordable). This situation underlines 
the importance of keeping legs — and thus labels — attached to birds, by repairing them, 
or in the immediate future by individually bagging each skin. 

By the very nature of &gg collections, where many have been illegally taken, 
data are encrypted, and clutch cards and diaries are often kept far away from the 
eggs to avoid prosecution, it is often worth waiting — often for years — for missing 

C. T. Fisher & F E. Warr 


Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

information to turn up. A clutch of White-tailed Sea Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla eggs, 
now at the National Museum of Scotland (Fig. 11), is labelled in ink as having been 
collected at Ardnamurchan on 7 May 1 874 and were apparently without further data 
when the private collection they were in was confiscated by the RSPB 10 . The 
collector's diary" was given to the NMS by a completely separate source at a later 
date and gives a more detailed account of the collection of these two eggs (Fig. 12): 
* . . . Simon Ross took a nest situated on the cliffs overhanging the sea on the farm of 
Grigadale about 2 miles south of the lighthouse and Point of Ardnamurchan ....'. 

Captive breeding records and studbooks: the first Budgerigar and 
Smalley's pigeons 

The first Budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus to be hatched in captivity in Britain 
was the subject of a letter in 1848 from the 13th Earl of Derby to John Gould. Gould 
had imported the parent 'Sparrow Parakeets' from Australia for Lord Derby, for his 
aviaries at Knowsley Hall, near Liverpool. In 1840 Gould had been the first person 
to import live budgerigars successfully from Australia to Britain. Lord Derby's letter 
to Gould (Fig. 13) recorded that: 

I have the pleasure to tell you we have been overjoyed here by the fact of a Pair 
of the Melopsittacus undulatus breeding. It was first observed by Thompsons 

Figure 10. Popham's diary, open at the page where he recorded that he had shot a parent Curlew Sandpiper 
off its nest in Siberia on 3 July 1897. The picture also shows the eggs from this nest, the clutch card, and 
four Curlew Sandpiper skins collected by Popham (©The Natural History Museum, London). 

C. T. Fisher & F. E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 11. A clutch of two White-tailed Sea Eagle eggs, collected at Ardnamurchan in 1874 (© The 
National Museum of Scotland). 

(?Chm)r ei Clu^KoAYUxAcvru . f {/rrvtfn. ()Ima oaMUx> U,c^d ^Ok^l d^um (L 
a. fo>^w^ TaW* W^u-dL^ Wife ^<^™l cXa^ ^a. ^-^ 

J^CcCiL "....-. ^SUxX rt^XTvrxJJY^ Sc^-Susrr^ (x^u^ 

Figure 12. Diary page, with a detailed account of the collecting of two White-tailed Sea Eagle eggs 
(© The National Museum of Scotland). 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 


Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


L J^t*^*-'*' ****** 

Figure 13. Extract from a letter from 
the 13 ,h Earl of Derby to John Gould, 
dated 1 1 February 1 848 and recording 
the hatching in captivity of 
Budgerigars, for the first time in 
Britain (© The Natural History 
Museum, London). 

Figure 14. A Budgerigar chick, from 
the first pair to be hatched in captivity 
in Britain (at Knowsley Hall, in 1848) 

(© NMGM). 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 153 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

noticing that the hen never left the hole she had taken to ... we can hear the 
young ...this is curious and I believe the 1 st instance 12 . 

The two young birds unfortunately died soon after hatching, but one is preserved 
in the collections of the Liverpool Museum, complete with a label recording when it 
died 13 (Fig. 14). 

Two manuscript volumes representing Smalley's pigeon studbook (1904) refer 
to domestic pigeon varieties represented by specimens now in the collections at the 
Natural History Museum, Tring, and give details of plumage and lineage which are 
not on their labels 14 (Fig. 15). Although it might not seem that storing information 
on captive birds is an important part of a museum's remit, such information is often 
sought by aviculturists and historians and is an inviting topic for the general public. 
The Liverpool Museum budgie, for instance, was by far the most popular and most 
photographed exhibit out of all the hundreds of specimens and works of art in a 
recent exhibition about the 13 th Earl of Derby. 

Incidental biographical material 

An incidental part of working with paper is the occasional fleeting insight it may 
grant into personal circumstance and social history. Manuscript bird labels are often 
recycled backs of calling cards, entrance tickets or invitations. Many of John Gould's 
specimens, for instance, are labelled on the back of strips cut from the entrance 
tickets to his 1851 Hummingbird exhibition at Crystal Palace in London. This also 
can be useful in dating his specimens. Figure 16 shows a Royal Society invitation to 
Burlington House for the eminent ornithologist Canon Tristram 'and a Lady'. This 
invitation was reconstructed from the reverse side of bird skins labels in the National 
Museum of Scotland (Fig. 16). 

Figurative material 

Illustration, first by drawing and more recently also by photograph, has been a crucial 
means of conveying information about species and indeed their habitats. However, 
in much the same way that specimen material is often simply archived in a museum 
collection without being published (see Collar & Rudyanto 2003, this issue), so it is 
with figurative material, and with the same result — that there is often a great deal of 
important information to be discovered through the examination of these types of 

Illustrations of extinct species, 1: the Pink-headed Duck 

The Impey Collection (1774-1783) contains exquisite gouache paintings, of which 
about 120 are thought to survive, executed by artists trained in the Moghul tradition. 
They are mainly portraits of birds which lived in captivity in the gardens created in 
Calcutta by Lady Impey and her Chief Justice husband, Sir Elijah Impey. Many of 
these paintings were the first known records of particular species of bird and, after 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

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Figure 15. A page from Smalley's Pigeon Studbook, showing details of hatching and lineage (© The 
Natural History Museum, London). 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 16. Invitation from the Royal Society to Canon H. B. Tristram, reconstructed from the backs of 
bird labels at the National Museum of Scotland (© The National Museum of Scotland). 

the Impeys had returned to Britain with their pictures, were used extensively by the 
distinguished English ornithologist John Latham to describe forms new to science. 
Two of these 'iconotypes', both by Shaikh Zayn-al-Din, are described below, 
and were from a group of four Impey paintings recently purchased by NMGM (Fisher 
1 999y5 Another fine painting from this group is by the Moslem artist Ram Das. It 
was purchased on the grounds that it is probably the earliest known portrait of the 
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea (Latham). This duck has not been 
seen since the 1940s and is probably, but not certainly, extinct (BirdLife International 
2001). Latham (1787, supplement 1: 276) stated that the duck 'Inhabits various 
parts of India ... [and] Is often kept tame ..'. The painting by Ram Das was almost 
certainly painted using a living model, and as such this composition is of great 
interest and importance (see Fisher & Kear 2002). 

Illustrations of extinct species, 2: Lieutenant Robins's Macaw 

A spectacular and interesting painting (Fig. 17) by a Lt. L. J. Robins has recently 
been discovered in a private collection, in a bound volume of works dated 1765 16 . 
The volume is entitled The natural history of Jamaica, but the bird does not match 
very well with the description of the only known specimen — shot near Lucea in 
1765 (Gosse 1847) — of the Jamaican (or Yellow-headed) Macaw A ra gossei, a species 
which is sadly no longer extant. In Joseph Smit's plate in Extinct birds (1907), which 

C. T. Fisher & F E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 17. Macaw, from a volume of paintings entitled The natural history of Jamaica by L. J. Robins 
(© The Earl of Derby). 

accompanies Walter Rothschild's quotation of Gosse's account of the Jamaican 
Macaw (and from which Rothschild took his 1905 type description), the bird clearly 
has a yellow crown, whereas Robins's Macaw seems only to have a yellow crest; 
nor does Robins's Macaw seem to match the plumage of the now-extinct Cuban 
Macaw Ara tricolor. 

Illustrations of extinct species, 3: the Great Auk 

This species, which became extinct in the 1840s, is known from mounted specimens, 
eggs and osteological material. However, much of its ecology and behaviour, as 
well as the story behind the bird's extinction, has been deduced from written accounts 

Figure I X. Painting of a New Zealand Laughing Owl, by an unknown artist, from the Rothschild Library 
at Tring (© The Natural History Museum, London). 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

and from old pictures. One such old drawing is an engraving (see Fuller 1999: 65) 
from Newfoundland by F. W. Keyl and E. Evans, produced in about 1880, which 
gives a very strong impression of the hunting techniques used for the mass dispatching 
of the flightless bird. 

However, probably the earliest drawing of the Great Auk known is one that not 
only proves that the bird occurred on the Isle of Man but also suggests that it bred 
there. The drawing (reproduced in Williamson 1939, Fisher 1997, Fuller 1999: 367) 
is by Daniel King and dated about 1652. It is captioned 'These kind of birds are 
about the Isle of Man', and shows a Great Auk standing on a flat rock, which were 
their usual breeding sites. Other contemporary accounts record the species on the 
Isle of Man, and some pieces of bone excavated at two archaeological sites on the 
island — Perwick (Garrad 1972) and Castletown (Fisher 1996) — have confirmed its 
presence there. 

Illustrations of extinct species, 4: the New Zealand Laughing Owl 

The Laughing Owl Sceloglaux albifacies was first named by George Gray in 1 844 
from a specimen from the voyages of the ships Erebus and Terror. He was struck 
with the white face of the specimen, hence albifacies (= 'white-faced'). Later, 
specimens with rufous faces (which may be colour morphs) were collected. 

This species has been extinct since 1914, and is only known from about 30 
specimens. Only two paintings of the bird exist which appear to be done from life: 
one by J. G. Keulemans in Rowley's Ornithological miscellany (1875, vol 1: opp. 
p. 35), painted from Rowley's own captive specimens, and a painting now in the 
Rothschild Library at Tring, which was done by an unknown artist. The few other 
pictures of the Laughing Owl show it upright, but in this last painting it has a sideways, 
hunched stance (Fig. 18). The painted tail has been much changed, from thick to 
thin. Rothschild had this picture up on his wall in his museum at Tring for many 

Figure 19. Rallus nigra from "Otheila" (= Tahiti), by George Forster (© The Earl of Derby). 

C. T. Fisher & F E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

years, so he obviously thought it was special. 
It may have been of the live specimen he 
had in confinement in Cambridge, in which 
case the painting was probably done from 
life. This Cambridge bird is now in the 
collections of the NHM at Tring. 

Figure 20. Lord Howe Island Pigeon, by George Raper 
( 1 790), from the Raper Drawings at the Natural History 
Museum (© The Natural History Museum, London). 

Illustrations of unknown species, 1: the Tahiti Black Rail 

An original watercolour (now in private hands 17 ) of a rail named Rallus nigra was 
published in 1784 in Icones animalium by the artist John Miller, but without locality. 
It was therefore supposed to be either a picture of the Henderson Island Rail Porzana 
atra CNesophylax ater ; as synonomised in Peters 1 934, 2: 1 88), or an earlier version 
of George Forster's picture of Porzana tabuensis (which is from Tahiti and 
neighbouring islands). Thus it was recommended that the name Rallus nigra be 
suppressed. However, the original watercolour is clearly marked 'Otheila (= Tahiti). 
Dr Forster' (Fig. 19) and the bird does not look like Porzana tabuensis. Michael 
Walters of NHM (who has been analysing this picture) thinks that Rallus nigra was 
probably more closely related to P. atra but was a distinct species that once lived on 
Tahiti. It would be useful to discover some fossils to prove this theory. 

Illustrations of unknown species, 2: the Lord Howe Island Pigeon 

There are only two known portraits of the Lord Howe Island Pigeon Janthoenas 
godmani. One is amongst the collection of George Raper's drawings in the NHM 18 
and is dated 1790. The other (which is almost identical and is probably a copy of 
Raper's picture, although the bird is sitting on the ground rather than perched on a 
branch) is amongst an important collection of paintings 19 produced by an unknown 
artist in about 1790. This latter picture is reproduced in Hindwood (1940, plate 1). 
The Raper picture was used by Gregory Mathews to name the species in 1915, and 
copied by Henrik Gronvold for Mathews's Birds of Norfolk and Lord Howe Island 
(1928) (Fig. 20). 

C. T. Fisher & F E. Warr 159 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Illustrations that involve taxonomic types 

Of the four Impey paintings recently purchased by NMGM (see above), two — both 
by Shaikh Zayn-al-Din — are almost certainly types (pictures, rather than specimens, 
to which the author was referring when writing the type description of a new species). 
The first is entitled 'Bhu'khur' (= 'Cuckoo') 20 and was painted in 1782. This shows 
the Little or Asian Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus, which was given this 
scientific name by Latham (1790, 1:214). Latham stated that he founded his scientific 
name on the 'Grey-headed C[uckoo]' of his General synopsis of birds (1787, 
Supplement I: 102), where he reported that his description was based on a bird in 
one of Lady Impey 's collection of drawings. This must be the drawing he was referring 
to. Shaikh Zayn-al-Din's painting therefore has type status for the name Cuculus 

Another of the four Impey paintings recently purchased by NMGM is a delightful 
portrait of a 'Syam Chakar' ('Siam Nuthatch') on what appears to be a cinnamon 
tree (Fig. 21) 21 . We are fairly sure that this portrait is the basis of Latham's name 
Sitta longirostra (1790: 264; the 'Long-billed Nuthatch' from 'Batavia'), which Peters 
(1967: 142 footnote) reported to be 'not identifiable'. James Greenaway, who wrote 
this footnote, did not have the luxury of seeing Shaikh Zayn-al-Din's portrait of the 
bird, which was in private hands at the time, nor had he traced Latham's latinised 
description back to the General synopsis of birds (Supplement Part I: 118, 1787) or 
to A general history of birds (4: 73). In both these accounts Latham states that he 
was describing his Long-billed Nuthatch 'From the drawings of Lady Impey'. The 
plural 'drawings' is interesting; it could be construed that there was more than one 
of this nuthatch. Indeed, the Impey 'Syam Chakar' at NMGM is actually more 
probably a syntype, because several of the Impey drawings seem to be duplicates of 
the same species, and Latham is likely to have had access to all the paintings, including 
the duplicates. 

A very similar painting of a nuthatch is in a bound volume of original paintings 
in the Rothschild Library at the NHM, Tring, entitled Indian birds colourd 22 . For a 
long time the artist, or artists, responsible for the illustrations in this volume remained 
unidentified. In recent years a Farsi- speaking visitor translated some signatures as 
'Sheikh Ed-dine'. On comparing the two nuthatch paintings, it was confirmed that 
the Tring picture was another original by Shaikh Zayn-al-Din (Fig. 22). The only 
real difference is the way the cinnamon plant on which the bird is perched has been 
painted. The two pictures are therefore now regarded as syntypes for Latham's name 
Sitta longirostra. However, there still remains the puzzle of which species Sitta 
longirostris actually is equivalent to in modern terms. The fact that 'Syam Chakar' 
is written on the NMGM version hints that S. longirostris could be a Siamese (Thai) 

Photographs of birds: the New Zealand Laughing Owl and the last Heath Hen 

Only a few photographs were ever taken of the now-extinct New Zealand Laughing 
Owl; two reproduced in Tyto 3 (1998: 17-18) were taken in about 1909 by Cuthbert 

C. T. Fisher & F. E. Warr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 21. "Syam Chakar" (Siam Nuthatch), 
Liverpool Museum, NMGM (© NMGM). 

painting by Shaikh Zayn-al-Din, recently purchased by 

Figure 22. Painting of a nuthatch, by Shaikh Zayn- 
al-Din, from a bound volume entitled Indian birds 
< <>h mid in the library at Tring (© The Natural 
History Museum. London). 

Figure 23. Previously unpublished photograph of 
a Heath Hen, taken by Alfred O. Gross at Martha's 
Vineyard on 31 March 1930 (© The Natural 
History Museum, London). Registration number 

C. T. Fisher & F E. Warr 1 6 1 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

and Oliver Parr. Both show an owl in a small rocky shelter, with a mouse in its beak. 
The only other photograph is one by Henry Wright of a captive bird, probably one of 
the pair shipped to Rothschild by Walter Buller in 1892 (this is also mentioned in 
Tyto 3). These photographs are very useful historical records in themselves, but are 
also valuable in relation to the pose and shape of the Laughing owl in the painting at 
Tring (see above). 

Five excellent photographs were taken of living Heath Hens Tympanuchus cupido 
at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, by Alfred O. Gross in 1929 and 1930, just 
before the species became extinct. One of these photographs is reproduced in W. T. 
Hornaday's book Thirty years war for wildlife (1931). The rest remain, so far as we 
are aware, unpublished; prints are in the Ornithology Library at Tring (Fig. 23). 

Discussion and conclusions 

The examples above indicate the various ways in which material on paper, stored in 
museums, can serve science well if it is only recognised for its potential value and 
put to good use. We say 'stored in museums' but the title of our essay acknowledges 
that with this material there is a great deal of interplay between museums and libraries. 
Often the libraries are part of the museum (most large collections of birds have their 
own dedicated library), but sometimes they are, as it were, equal members of a 
wider institution. Thus, for example, we now have available the notes of H. H. Slater 
(c.1875) on the birds of Rodrigues, which came to Alfred Newton via his brother 
Edward as part of a consignment of material sent to the Cambridge University 
Museum of Zoology. These were tracked down and used by Cheke (1987), but are 
now in the Newton/Balfour Library in the Department of Zoology at the University 
of Cambridge and no longer therefore a document preserved in the museum itself. 
The movement of scripts and illustrations from museum to library is doubtless a 
common one, and future workers should be aware that events of ostensibly trivial 
significance at the time (such as the sale or disposal of papers, or the administrative 
restructuring of faculties and departments) can dissociate documentation from its 
subject material in such a way as to require considerable extra diligence and 
scholarship on the part of future interested parties. 

The examples we have used in this essay are perhaps rather dramatic and extreme, 
since for the most part they deal with the very rarest species, or species that are now 
lost to us. We should also stress that field notebooks, diaries, letters (and so on) can 
be extremely valuable sources of information about the status of what were, in 
centuries past, common birds. These manuscripts can, of course, also tell us a great 
deal about the status of the habitats these birds then occupied. Indeed, their value 
may become increasingly obvious as biologists and conservationists investigate 
declines of species that were once so common that their detailed documentation was 
considered unimportant, with the result that their former status has perhaps only 
very generally been described in the published literature. If museum archives hold 
documentation that can more precisely account for the former status of a species, 
then in due course they are likely to become more and more valuable to researchers. 

C. T. Fisher & F. E. Warr 1 62 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

There are. however, very considerable drawbacks with regard to the status of 
paper holdings in museums. Two key ones are that (1) most of the material is very 
little known to museum users and indeed museum staff, and (2) most of it is 
inadequately indexed for ease of reference; moreover, although this is a separate 
and less ubiquitous problem, (3) it is often either unavailable, or available in only 
constrained physical and/or temporal circumstances (thus, for example, A. S. Cheke 
[verbally 1999] found that, in the 1970s, the correspondence of Alfred Newton — 
Professor of Zoology at Cambridge University and dead since 1907 — was not open 
for consultation because it was uncatalogued; this embargo lasted until the mid- 
1990s when the material was transferred to the University Library). We might also 
add (4) that there are fewer and fewer biologists at present who have the necessary 
training and type of scholarly outlook and interest to make valuable use of paper 
holdings. In the past, much of this expertise was handed down by day-to-day example, 
difficult to maintain in these modern times of staff shortages and alternative duties. 

As a consequence, museum users are unlikely to make routine reference to such 
material. Certainly it is the case that a researcher needs to be extremely focused, or 
obsessed, in order to work through a body of paper holdings in search of particular 
items of information or pieces of evidence. Nevertheless, there is much that museums 
can do to improve the situation — by providing more details in a more public manner 
about their paper holdings (through exhibitions, catalogues, scientific papers, 
websites), by liaising with other academic institutions and inviting debate about the 
scholarly study of their materials, and by setting up programmes of cataloguing, 
indexing and description of holdings. All of this might cost money, but not necessarily 
great sums, and some of the work could be entrusted to volunteers. We would, at any 
rate, be inclined to feel that the long-term security of much of the paper-based material 
in museums would be enhanced by greater clarity and assertiveness over its value as 
a relevant contemporary research resource in history and biology. 


We would like to thank the following ornithologists and librarians for their suggestions and help with 
examples included in this paper: the Javan Lapwing — Nigel Collar, Rene Dekker and Jorn Scharlemann; 
the Sao Tome Short-tail — Nigel Collar; the Giant Chatham Island Rail — Joanne Cooper; the Tahiti Black 
Rail — Amanda Askari and Michael Walters; the Great Auk — Errol Fuller; Sharpe's Catalogue and 
Darwin — Frank Steinheimer; Popham's diary — Michael Walters and Jorn Scharlemann; the White-tailed 
Sea-eagle eggs and for Canon Tristram's invitation — Bob McGowan. 

We also acknowledge the many hours that Nigel Collar, Jo Cooper and Jorn Scharlemann have 
spent improving this paper. We are very grateful to the following institutions and owners for permission 
to reproduce original illustrations or manuscripts: the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historic Leiden; 
the Natural History Museum, London andTring; the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; National 
Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool; Liverpool City Libraries; the Mitchell Library, Sydney 
and The 19th Earl and Countess of Derby, Knowsley Hall, Merseyside. 


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Andrews. C. W. 1 896. Note on the skeleton of Diaphorapteryx hawkinsi Forbes, a large extinct rail from 

the Chatham Islands. Geological Mag. (Decade VI) 3(8): 337-388 and plate XII. 

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Atkinson, P. W., Peet, N. B. & Alexander, J. 1991. The status and conservation of the endemic bird 

species of Sao Tome and Principe, West Africa. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 1: 255-282. 
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Brooks, T 2000. Extinct. Pp. 701-708 in Threatened birds of the world. BirdLife International, Cambridge, 

Cheke, A. S. 1987. Observations on the surviving endemic birds of Rodrigues. Pp. 364-402 in Diamond, 

A. W. (ed.) Studies of Mascarene island birds. Cambridge Univ. Press. 
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of the Australian fauna, with special reference to John Gilbert. PhD Thesis, Liverpool Polytechnic, 

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Fisher, C. T. 1996. Bird bone. Pp. 144- 151 in Davey, P. J., Freke D. J. & Higgins, D. A. (eds.) Excavations 

in Castletown, Isle of Man 1989-1992. Liverpool Univ. Press. 
Fisher, C. T 1997. Past human exploitation of birds on the Isle of Man. Internatn. J. Osteoarchaeology 

7: 292-297. 
Fisher, C. T 1999. Patna artists. Four watercolours of birds. Pp.98- 101 in National Art Collection Fund 

1998 Review. National Art Collections Fund, London. 
Fisher, C. & Kear, J. 2002. The taxonomic importance of two early paintings of the Pink-headed Duck 

Rhodonessa caryophyllacea (Latham 1790). Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 122: 244-248. 
Fuller, E. 1999. The Great Auk. Errol Fuller, Southborough, Kent. 
Garrad, L. S. 1972. Bird remains, including those of a great auk Alca impennis from a midden deposit in 

a cave at Perwick Bay, Isle of Man. Ibis 1 14: 258-259. 
Gill, B. & Martinson, P. 1991. New Zealand's extinct birds. Auckland: Random Century. 
Gosse, P. H. 1847. The birds of Jamaica. John van Voorst, London. 
Gould, J. 1845. On a new species of Platycercus. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 15: 114-115. 
Gray, G R. 1844. The zoology of the voyage of H. M.S. Erebus and Terror: birds. Janson, London. 
Hindwood, K. A. 1940.The birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu 40 (1): 1-86. 
Latham, J. 1787. General synopsis of birds. Supplement 1. Leigh & Sotheby, London. 
Latham, J. 1790. Index ornithologicus (vols. 1 & 2). Leigh & Sotheby, London. 
Mathews, G. M. 1915. Raperia godmanae, a new bird from Lord Howe Island, now extinct. Austral. 

Avian record 3: 21-24. 
Mathews, G M. 1928. The birds of Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands and the Australasian South Polar 

Quadrant, with additions to "The birds of Australia". Witherby, London. 
Peters, J. L. 1934. Check-list of birds of the world, 2. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass. 
Peters, J. L. 1967. Check-list of birds of the world, 12. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass. 
Rasmussen, P. C. & Prys-Jones, R. P. 2003. History vs mystery: the reliability of museum specimen 

data. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 123 A: 66-94. 
Rothschild, W. 1905. Notes on extinct parrots [= type description of Ara gossei]. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 16: 

Rothschild, W. 1907. Extinct birds. Hutchinson, London. 
Rowley, G. D. 1875. Ornithological miscellany. Trubner, London. 
Schodde, R. & Tidemann, S. C. 1986. Complete book of Australian birds. Reader's Digest, Sydney. 

C. T. Fisher & E E. Wan 1 64 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Sharpe, R. B. 1881. Catalogue of the birds in the British Museum. 6. Trustees of the British Museum, 

Williamson. K. 1939. The great auk in Man. J. Manx Mus. 4: 168-172. 

Addresses: Clemency Fisher. Curator of Birds & Mammals, Liverpool Museum, National Museums & 
Galleries on Merseyside. William Brown Street, Liverpool, L3 8EN; F. E. Warr, Assistant Librarian 
(retired). Ornithology & Rothsehild Libraries, Natural History Museum, Tring, Hertfordshire, HP23 
6 A P. 


Paradise Parrot letter, see draft and formal letter from Gould to Gilbert, in National Library of 

Australia. Canberra. 
: Copy by Lord Derby of Gilbert's letter: LCL920 DER (13) 1/67/11. 

Both are now in the collections of the Liverpool Museum, NMGM. 
4 LIVCM D.789a. 

Gilbert's diary in the Mitchell Library is in two parts, one of which is mislaid and at present only 

available as a typescript copy. Original volume: ML A2586, typescript ML A2587. 

"Great Auk - Miscellaneous Papers', compiled by H. Barclay and later T. Parkin. NHM (Tring 


NHM, Tring; the working copy of Sharpe's Catalogue of birds in the BMNH is kept outside the 

curators' offices on the first floor of the bird collection building. 

Eggs: Popham Collection 1943.7.471. H. L. Popham's journals (Travel Diaries in 7 volumes) are 

kept in the Library at NHM Tring. 

9 Female Curlew Sandpiper skin, NHM 1938.12.14.91 (collected July 3rd 1897, from the Yenisei 
River, Popham's collection number 500 [387]). 

10 White-tailed Sea Eagle eggs: NMSZ 1991.111. 

11 Diary in J. J. Dalgleish collection, National Museum of Scotland. 

12 John Gould Archive, Zoology Library, Natural History Museum, London. 

13 LIVCM D.505g, died in the Knowsley aviaries in February 1848. 

14 Smalley's Pigeon Studbook in 2 volumes, 1903-1913. NHM, Tring Library. 

15 Impey Collection LIVCM 1999.36.2-5. These were once in the possession of the XIHth Earl of 
Derby, at Knowsley Hall. The Pink-headed Duck is numbered 1999.36.4. 

Robins's 'The Natural History of Jamaica' in seven volumes, Knowsley Hall Library, NH11 El 3- 

17 Knowsley Hall Library, near Liverpool. Painting by John Miller but pasted on page 12 of a bound 

volume of paintings mainly by Thomas Davies, NHM E9. 

Raper Drawing No. 72, Zoology Library, NHM South Kensington. George Raper was a midshipman 

on the Sinus. 

Painting no. 41 in a collection of original pictures in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, 

New Zealand 
2 " NMGM 1999.36.2. 

NMGM 1999.36.5. It must have been painted between 1774 and 1783, the period the Impeys were 

in India. 

'Indian Birds Colon rd\ plate 40, NHM Tring Library. 

€> British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

Rhys E. Green & Jorn P. W Scharlemann 165 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Egg and skin collections as a resource for 
long-term ecological studies 

by Rhys E. Green & Jorn P. W. Scharlemann 

Well labelled and reliable series of bird skins and eggs collected over long time-spans 
offer opportunities to determine environmentally induced changes in parameters of 
ecological interest, such as geographical range, the age structure of populations, clutch- 
size, and the timing of breeding and migration. They also reveal environmentally induced 
changes in morphology related to pollution and a changing food base. Finally, they can be 
used for various chemical analyses to determine the presence and effects of certain 
environmental pollutants and even, through stable isotopes, the geographic origins of 
particular birds and changes in their diets over time. The value of museum collections for 
these purposes is sufficiently high for us to recommend the resumption of the systematic 
accumulation of avian specimens for long-term ecological research, but this should only 
be done if adverse effects on conservation status can be avoided. One example is the 
long-term scheme to collect specimens of birds of prey found dead by the public in the 
U.K., which has resulted in several valuable conservation-oriented applications. 


Museum collections have been used most frequently for research on taxonomy, 
phylogeny and geographical distribution. However, avian museum collections contain 
much information relevant to other areas of biological research, such as ecology, 
behaviour and physiology (Ricklefs 1980). Of particular interest to ecologists are 
the long series of specimens collected over 100-200 year spans which offer 
opportunities to study long-term changes in morphology, phenology and chemical 
composition, and in this paper we focus on the use of avian museum collections for 
such long-term ecological studies. 

Avian specimens are preserved in museum collections as skins, skeletons and as 
whole specimens in alcohol or formalin, eggs and nests. Of these, usually only skins 
and eggs are collected in large enough numbers to give sufficient material for 
ecological long-term studies which require large data series. Natural history museums, 
with their commitment to long-term preservation and documentation of specimens, 
provide an excellent resource for ecologists. The value of a long-term ecological 
study is difficult to predict in advance, so relatively few continue for decades. Museum 
collections are a resource for retrospective long-term studies and especially for 
monitoring and hypothesis testing. 

We identify three ways in which ornithological collections can provide 
information for long-term ecological studies. These are: the use of data from labels; 
morphological measurements; and chemical analysis. We present examples of each 
of these types of research and indicate technical difficulties and prospects for 

Rhys E. Green &jSrn P. W. Scharlemann 166 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Distribution, life history and phenology from 
collection label data 

The data held on a specimen usually include information on species, collecting date 
and approximate locality. Sometimes there is also information on age, sex, moult, 
stage of development of gonads, skull ossification, clutch size, stage of development 
of embryos, habitat and precise locality (latitude/longitude or national grid reference). 
To obtain these data it may be necessary to examine the label attached to the specimen 
or to consult accompanying registers, notebooks, data-cards or computerised 
databases. Large amounts of data can be accumulated quickly. This information can 
be used for studies of distribution, life history and phenology. 


Data from egg and skin collections can make a valuable contribution to establishing 
the range of a bird species. The use of clutch and nest localities is preferable for 
establishing the breeding range if there is a possibility of migration or dispersal. 
Museum collections can reveal long-term changes in distribution, especially the 
contraction of range. Evidence from museum specimens for the expansion of range 
is likely to be less reliable because the earlier lack of specimens from an area might 
reflect lack of collecting effort. Contraction of range can be checked by new survey 

Life-history studies 

Some indication of long-term changes or geographical differences in the demographic 
rates of birds may be available from museum collections. Proportions of skins 
attributable to different age categories may reflect the balance of recruitment and 
mortality in the sampled population. Snow (1956) used the proportion of first years 
to adults in museum collections to estimate annual mortality rates of Blue Tits Parus 
caeruleus in different parts of Europe. The colouration (green or blue) of the wing- 
coverts allows one-year-old adults to be distinguished from older birds. Mortality 
rates varied among seasons and regions within Europe. However, for some species, 
the methods used to obtain specimens could influence the age distribution, so results 
should be interpreted with caution. 

Clutch sizes from museum egg collections can be used to investigate changes 
over time. Rodgers (1990) showed that the clutch size of North American Wood 
Storks Mycteria americana had not significantly declined from 1875 to the late 
twentieth century. Therefore reduction in clutch size cannot account for the population 
decline observed in Florida. In contrast, the clutch size of the Snail Kite Rostrhamus 
sociabilis in the Florida Everglades decreased significantly over 100 years, during a 
period of change in hydrology (Beissinger 1986). 

A problem with the use of records of clutch size from museum collections is that 
egg collectors were probably selective with respect to clutch size. Lack (1946) showed 
for the European Robin Erithacus rubecula that clutches in collections were 0.52 
eggs larger compared to field observations. The distribution of clutch size was skewed 

Rhys E. Green & Jorn P. W Scharlemann 167 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

towards larger clutches for data from oological collections (Lack 1946). Some egg 
collectors may have made up large false clutches to impress their fellow collectors, 
but it is thought that these can usually be identified (see for example Beissinger 


Phenology investigates the timing of naturally recurring events and the relationship 
of their timing with biotic and abiotic variables. Examples include arrival and 
departure dates of migratory birds and the timing of egg-laying (Sparks & Crick 
1999). One hypothesis is that the observed and recorded event is correlated with 

Several recent field studies have shown that birds are laying eggs earlier in north 
temperate areas than in the past (Crick et al. 1997) and that egg-laying dates are 
correlated with spring temperature (McCleery & Perrins 1998, Crick & Sparks 1999) 
and the North Atlantic Oscillation (Forchhammer et al. 1998). Most of these studies 
are based on data from nest record cards from the British Trust for Ornithology, 
which are available for only the last 30-50 years. Egg collections on the other hand 
provide longer-term data, going back over 150 years. The oldest dated specimen in 
the egg collection of the Natural History Museum, Tring, is a Great Bustard Otis 
tarda from 1801 (N. J. Collar pers. comm.; see also Walters 1993), but large numbers 
of specimens are available from 1850 onwards. Dates of collection of clutches can 
easily be recorded from labels and long-term changes and relationships with climate 
investigated. Egg-laying dates can be estimated if a record was made of the stage of 
development of the embryos (McNair 1987), but this information was often not 
recorded. Another problem is that the terminology used to describe development is 
variable and specific to the collector. Although eggs containing large embryos often 
have a large hole through which the egg contents were removed, the diameter of this 
hole is not always a good indicator of incubation stage (Storer 1930; see McNair 

Rodgers (1990) used data from museum labels from North American Wood Stork 
eggs collected in Florida to study geographic and temporal variation in laying dates. 
He showed that there is a significant north-south difference in the main period of 
egg-laying. Storks in southern Florida lay eggs in October and December to June, 
whereas birds in central Florida lay between February and May. Laying dates in 
southern Florida changed from being concentrated in one month (January) in the 
nineteenth century to a wide spread of laying months observed in the twentieth 
century. It was suggested that this change might be caused by changes in the hydrology 
of southern Florida. 

Byrkjedal & Thompson (1998) used the results of an extensive compilation of 
the dates and distribution of localities where museum skins of tundra-breeding plovers 
Pluvialis were collected to describe the phenology of long-distance migration. This 
approach is widely applicable to comparative studies of the timing of migration and 
could be used to study changes in migration over time. 

Rhys E. Green &Jorn P. W Scharlemann 168 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Problems with label data 

Caution has to be taken when using data from labels. In addition to the problems 
already mentioned, there is the possibility of accidental or deliberate inaccuracy. 
Hggs may be especially likely to be associated with falsified data in countries where 
egg collecting has been illegal in recent decades, because collectors fear prosecution 
and therefore may falsify collection dates (review of legal aspects in Sutcliffe 1993). 

Morphological measurements 

Museum specimens represent an immense resource of morphological data for 
comparative studies among regions and over long periods of time. The length and 
breadth of eggs and the weight of the shell are commonly recorded for eggs in 
museum collections. Other possible measurements include blowhole diameter, which 
is useful for adjustment of shell weight for the missing piece of shell in calculation 
of eggshell indices. Multiple measurements or photogrammetry can be used to 
measure egg shape, and eggshell thickness can be measured directly using a modified 
micrometer (see Green 1998). A variety of measurements of the bill, legs, wings and 
feathers can be taken from skins. 

Long-term changes in eggs associated with environmental pollution 

The detection of eggshell thinning as an effect of contamination of birds of prey 
with DDE (a metabolite of the insecticide DDT) relied heavily on the use of eggs in 
museum collections (Newton 1979). The most frequently used method is to weigh 
the eggshell and divide the weight by an index of the surface area of the egg calculated 
from the length and breadth. By comparing recently taken eggs with older museum 
specimens Ratcliffe (1970) showed that eggshell thinning in Peregrine Falcons Falco 
peregrinus in Britain had begun at the same time as the first widespread use of DDT 
in 1947 as a stepwise change. The correlation between introduction of DDT and 
eggshell thinning was observed in several species of raptor and fish-eating bird in 
Britain (Table 5 in Ratcliffe 1970) and around the world (Anderson & Hickey 1972, 
Newton 1979, Risebrough 1986). The eggshell thickness of most species recovered, 
once organochlorine pesticide use had been reduced or phased out (Newton 1986, 
Risebrough 1986, Ratcliffe 1993). 

A recent study by Green (1998) found that eggshell thickness of four species of 
thrush has declined over the past 150 years. This decline was evidently not caused 
by organochlorine pollution, because it began before the introduction of DDT and a 
step-like decline is not observed. One possible hypothesis is that acid deposition has 
caused a reduction in the availability of calcium and that this reduced the quality of 
eggshells laid by thrushes. Such a mechanism is suggested by short-term experimental 
work on Great Tits Parus major in the Netherlands (Graveland 1998). 

The extent to which differences in the methods used to prepare and store eggs 
might contribute to differences in indices or direct measurements of eggshell thickness 
is still uncertain. The use by collectors of chemicals and different mechanical techniques 
to remove egg contents, the application of preservatives and the accumulation of dust 

Rhys E. Green & Jorn P. W Scharlemann 169 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

might all affect the measurements. As with all museum material, the selection of eggs 
on the basis of size, shape or other characters might also lead to bias. 

Evolutionary changes in morphology 

The detection of small changes in morphology resulting from natural selection is 
rendered more feasible by the use of museum specimens because it extends the time 
period over which they can be measured. Smith et al. (1995) showed that the bill 
size of a Hawaiian honeycreeper, the Iiwi Vestaria coccinea, was different for museum 
specimens collected before 1902 than for live birds measured in the 1990s. The 
proportion of birds with the longest upper mandibles had declined, leading to a 
reduction in mean length. The Iiwi formerly used its decurved bill to take nectar 
from the long curved corollas of flowers of lobelioids, which have declined greatly 
in abundance; the birds now feed mainly from flowers that do not have long tubular 
corollas. Hence it may be that natural selection has caused the observed change in 
bill length. The possibility that the apparent change might be caused by post-mortem 
alterations in the bill morphology of the museum specimens was evaluated in several 
ways. Smith et al. (1995) showed that bill measurements of a related species did not 
change significantly and that, although post-mortem changes in bill shape occurred, 
they could not account for the observed change in upper mandible length. 

Tornberg etal. (1999) measured a large sample of museum specimens of Northern 
Goshawk Accipiter gentilis from northern Finland to test the hypothesis that a long- 
term decline in the abundance of grouse, one of their most important prey types, 
would change the pattern of natural selection for body size. They suggested that 
males, which are the smaller sex, should experience increased selection for small 
size because grouse are at the upper end of the size range of their prey spectrum and 
smaller prey have become relatively more important as the grouse declined. 
Conversely, the much larger females should experience increased selection for large 
size because their main alternative prey, mountain hare Lepus timidus, is larger than 
grouse. Hence, males were predicted to become smaller and females larger during a 
period in which grouse populations and their importance in the diet of Goshawks 
were both declining. Both of these predictions were supported by a multivariate 
analysis of 14 skin and skeletal characters. The fact that measurements of the two 
sexes changed in opposite directions clearly (a) rules out spurious trends caused by 
post-mortem changes and (b) renders implausible the possibility that the size of 
full-grown birds might have changed in response to changes in prey availability at 
the nestling stage. 

Fluctuating asymmetry of morphological characters 

Small random differences between the right and left sides in characters that are 
approximately bilaterally symmetrical are referred to as fluctuating asymmetry (FA). 
Variation among individuals in the degree of FA has genetic and environmental 
components and may increase with decreasing genetic variability and deteriorating 
environmental conditions. Comparative studies of FA may allow changes over time 
in genetic variability and/or environmental stress to be monitored in populations. 
Measurements of FA in museum specimens can extend the period of such studies. 

Rhys E. Green &Jorn P. WScharlemann 170 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Lens et al. (1999) studied FA in the tarsus length of forest passerines living in 
fragments of cloud forest in Kenya. They compared FA of museum specimens 
collected in 1938-1948 with that of birds mist-netted in 1996-1998. FA increased 
substantially for five out of the six species studied in a small (50 ha) and recently 
disturbed forest fragment, but showed no marked change over time for the same 
species in a larger (220 ha), less disturbed fragment. Studies of this type could be 
used more widely to identify the occurrence of environmental stress caused by habitat 
loss or deterioration and the effects of loss of genetic diversity. Parallel studies of 
changes in genetic diversity by DNA analysis from museum specimens, like that of 
Groombridge et al. (2000), might be a valuable adjunct in disentangling the relative 
importance of environmental stress and genetic diversity. 

Changes in feather growth rates from ptilochronology 

Some feathers show transverse markings consisting of alternating light and dark 
bars. These bars represent daily increments in the length of the feather during growth 
(Grubb 1 989) and can be used after growth has ceased to measure the rate of extension 
of the feather. The technique is called ptilochronology. Measurements of growth 
bars can be made on feathers on museum skins, and changes in feather growth rates 
can then be compared over long time periods or among regions. Since feather growth 
may be affected by nutrition and environmental factors, such studies are of potential 
value in assessing long-term changes in habitat quality. 

Carlson (1998) measured growth bars on the rectrices of White-backed 
Woodpeckers Dendrocopos leucotos from northern Europe. The growth bars on the 
feathers of museum skins collected between 1832 and 1942 were significantly wider 
than those of birds captured in Sweden during 1990-1992. It was also found that the 
width of the growth bars of birds in the recent sample was positively correlated with 
the density of dead trees. Since dead wood provides food for woodpeckers it seems 
plausible that variation in growth-bar width reflects differences in nutritional status. 
The difference between the growth bars of museum specimens and the recently 
trapped birds might then suggest that habitat conditions were less favourable in 
Sweden in the 1990s than they had been in the past. 

Measurements of growth bars on museum skins appear to have potential value 
in long-term studies. However, it may be important to account for age and sex 
differences in feather growth rates and for differences in the areas in which specimens 
were collected in different time periods. A further problem is that growth bars are 
often indistinct and difficult to measure. Measurement methods could be improved 
if the precise physical basis of the bars was better understood. 

Problems with morphological measurements 

Researchers should be aware of several problems with morphological measurements 
of museum specimens. Shrinkage of various parts of bird skins occurs and may lead 
to distortion of shape as well as changes in linear measurements. Experiments 
conducted by Vaisanen (1969) indicated that measurements of eggs are unlikely to 
be much affected by storage in museum collections. However, egg preparation 
techniques might change over time, thin-shelled eggs could break selectively, or 

Rhys E. Green & Jorn P. W Scharlemann 1 7 1 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

dust may accumulate on the specimens. More detailed investigations are required to 
evaluate these problems. 

The specimens in museum collections do not necessarily represent a random 
sample. Egg collectors in particular are known to wish to include abnormally coloured 
eggs in their collections (Lack 1958). Such eggs might also be atypical in other 
respects. Changes in such biases over time might then lead to spurious trends in 
measured parameters. This might invalidate Fisher's (1937) conclusion that eggs of 
abundant species are more variable in size than those of uncommon species. However, 
this observation could also be explained by collecting habits, since collectors might 
select for diversity in abundant species and keep all specimens of rare species. 

Chemical analysis 

Chemical analyses of museum specimens allow the tracking of changes in pollutants 
and the determination of birds' movements and diets. Museum specimens are ideal 
for monitoring because long time series are available, acting as temporal controls 
(i.e. specimens collected before the introduction of the pollutant) and spatial controls 
(specimens from areas where the pollutant is absent). Most chemical analysis methods 
require samples, such as feathers or pieces of eggshell, to be taken from the museum 
specimens. However, recent advances in sampling techniques and analysis methods 
require smaller sample amounts, which will reduce the impact on specimens in 
museum collections and allow large-scale, long-term data collection. Sampling is 
becoming less destructive, and more chemical analyses can be done. These advances 
have opened up a new field of museum-based research. 


Chemical analyses of avian specimens from museum collections have shed light on 
many environmental problems. Birds accumulate heavy metals from their food and 
secrete them into their growing feathers during moult. Measurement of heavy metal 
concentrations in feather samples from live-trapped birds and museum specimens 
offers a method for monitoring long-term changes and spatial variation in 
contamination. Studies of mercury concentrations in seabird feathers provide an 
example of this approach. The concentration of mercury in feathers is related to that 
in the diet (Furness 1993). The mercury is stably bound to the feather keratin in 
organic form (Applequist et al. 1984). The presence of inorganic mercury added by 
post-mortem treatment of museum skins with inorganic mercury compounds as 
preservatives can be evaluated and allowed for by analysing total mercury and organic 
mercury concentrations separately (Monteiro & Furness 1997). 

Analysis of contour feathers taken from live and museum specimens of four 
species of seabirds from the north-east subtropical Atlantic Ocean revealed substantial 
increases in mercury concentration over a period of more than 100 years (Monteiro 
& Furness 1997). The rates of increase observed were in accord with those predicted 
from knowledge of anthropogenic emissions of mercury. A potential complication 
is that species of fish and marine invertebrates vary considerably in their mercury 
concentration (Monteiro et al. 1998). Therefore, a change in diet could lead to a 

Rhys E. Green &jSrn P. W Scharlemann 172 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

change in the mercury concentration in feathers that might be misinterpreted as 
reflecting a change in mercury contamination of the ecosystem. 

The chemical analysis of pollutants in eggshell membranes was instrumental in 
establishing the association between the widespread use of DDT and eggshell thinning 
in raptors. Peakall (1974) used ether extraction to remove DDE residues from the 
inner eggshell membrane without destroying the specimens. Eggs collected before 
1947 did not contain any DDT. whereas later eggs had high levels of DDT in their 

More recent work has investigated the heavy metal concentration in eggshells 
directly. Flores & Martins (1997) compared metals in eggs laid near coal-based 
power plants to eggs laid 100 km away. Using graphite furnace atomic absorption 
spectrometry they determined cadmium, lead and fluoride concentrations in the 
eggshell and egg contents. The eggshells from polluted areas contained higher 
concentrations of cadmium, lead and fluoride. The development of these methods, 
combined with a newly developed laser ablation sampling technique, which requires 
only minute samples (about 50p,m diameter), will facilitate large-scale sampling 
from egg collections and might help to evaluate the effects of pollutants on breeding 
birds and retrospectively assess long-term changes. 

Tracing bird movements using stable isotopes 

Most elements that occur in biological materials are found as at least two stable 
isotopes (Hoefs 1980 in Schaffner & Swart 1991). Isotope ratios vary geographically 
because of differences in geochemistry and various fractionation mechanisms during 
element cycling. These differences are reflected in the tissues of animals. The 
differences in isotope ratios in tissue can be used as natural ecological tracers, 
providing information on the regional origins and movements of individuals. 
However, isotope ratios, unlike ringing recoveries, cannot give very precise locations. 
The stable isotope ratios in an animal's tissues are correlated with the ratios in its 
diet. Elements commonly used are carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and strontium 
taken up through the food web. Tissues available for sampling from museum 
specimens of birds include bone, eggshell and feathers. Requirements for the size of 
samples are becoming small. 

Chamberlain et al. (1997) and Hobson & Wassenaar (1997) found that stable 
isotope analysis of tissue from North American insectivorous songbirds could provide 
information on their breeding or natal locations. Hobson & Wassenaar found that a 
gradient in the relative abundance of deuterium in rainfall during the plant-growing 
season across North America was reflected in the deuterium content of feathers 
grown by birds at various sites. Hence, analysis of the deuterium content of feather 
samples taken from birds trapped on migration or in their winter quarters could be 
used to identify their origins. Chamberlain et al. (1997) similarly reported that 
gradients in deuterium and l3 C could be used to identify the probable region of 
origin of migratory warblers. They also found that bone samples varied in 87 Sr content, 
reflecting geographic variation in the abundance of this isotope among drainage 
basins with different underlying rocks. Their results suggest that using the relative 

Rhys E. Green & Jorn P. W Scharlemann 173 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

abundances of several isotopes in a multivariate approach is likely to improve the 
precision with which areas of origin can be located. 

An important issue for the application of stable isotope methods to museum 
specimens is the stability with which the element being studied is bound within the 
tissue being sampled. A fraction of the hydrogen and deuterium in feathers can 
exchange with the environment and so could be influenced by storage conditions. 
Chamberlain et al. (1997) found that 13% of the hydrogen in songbird feathers 
exchanged with that in the environment. Equilibration of feather samples with ambient 
water with a known standard relative deuterium abundance allows this potential 
problem to be overcome. 

Monitoring changes and spatial differences in diet using stable isotopes 

Stable isotope ratios in the tissues of animals are affected by the habitats they use 
for feeding. For example the relative abundance of 18 in water and aquatic animals 
differs between freshwater and oceanic systems. Using the isotope signatures of 
eggshells, Schaffner & Swart (1991) showed that Western Grebes Aechmophorus 
occidentalis feed in freshwater habitats whereas tropicbirds Phaethon are oceanic 
feeders, having low 6 18 and high 6 18 respectively. In theory a long-term study 
could determine changes in feeding patterns (from freshwater to saltwater) based on 
isotope signatures of eggshells. 

Isotope signatures in bird tissues are also affected by the trophic level of the 
organisms they eat. Hence, changes in diet can be detected by the analysis of museum 
specimens. Thompson et al. (1995) found that the relative abundance of 15 N in feather 
samples from Northern Fulmars Fulmarus glacialis in the north-east Atlantic declined 
between the early and late nineteenth century. The relative abundance of 15 N tends 
to increase with increasing trophic level, so this change implies that Fulmars have 
changed their diet to include a higher component of animals of low trophic level. 
Thompson et al. suggested that this might be due to the cessation of commercial 
whaling within range of the sampled colonies, although changes in the species or 
age of fish eaten might also explain the change in isotope ratio. 

Nitrogen isotope signatures of eggshells can also be used to determine the diet 
of birds, as has been shown by feeding experiments (Hobson 1995). This technique 
could be applied to eggshells in museum collections to determine changes in diet 
over time. Emslie et al. (1998) suggested that eggshell fragments found in the 
sediment of abandoned penguin colonies could be used to determine changes in the 
prey items from different trophic levels (e.g. krill vs. squid vs. fish). 

Limitations of museum collections in future ecological 
long-term studies 

For ecologists to make use of avian collections in long-term studies they require 
information about available specimens. Ideally ecologists would have information 
on the number of specimens, localities and date of collection. Currently only a few 
readily available databases of avian collections exist. Examples include an inventory 

Rhys E Green &Jdm P. WScharlemann 174 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

of major egg collections in the United States (Kiff 1979, Kiff & Hough 1985), and 
the online database of Manchester Museum ( Online 
databases appear more flexible and allow easy access to large datasets. Databases 
are needed to make ecologists aware of the potentially available data currently hidden 
in museum collections. 

Few avian museum collections have had new specimens added to them in recent 
decades at rates that even approach those of the late nineteenth and early twentieth 
centuries (Remsen 1995, Winker 1996). Hence, future studies of long-term change 
will increasingly suffer from a gap in the data between the early spate of collecting 
and recent material, most of which has been specially obtained for a specific study. 
Indeed, for this reason many of the studies we have referred to above involve a 
comparison of measurements or analyses of old museum specimens with recent 
data from live-trapped birds. This problem obviously calls for careful storage and 
use of existing material, but a case can also be made for a revival in the accumulation 
of avian specimens as a resource for long-term ecological studies, provided that this 
does not have a negative impact on the conservation status of the bird species. 

In some cases representative samples could be collected for a limited set of species 
at fixed intervals in time. This would involve a carefully coordinated collection 
effort with detailed recording of ancillary data on every specimen and the preservation 
of a range of tissues. An alternative or supplementary approach would be to encourage 
members of the public and amateur ornithologists, in particular ringers and nest 
recorders, to contribute dead birds and deserted and addled eggs they find incidentally 
to museums to a much greater extent than they do at present. Although this approach 
would not permit the use of stratified random sampling, it would have the advantage 
that specimens from a wide range of species could be obtained. Our perception is 
that this does not happen at present, at least in western Europe, because both the 
public and amateur ornithologists are not aware that new specimens are useful for 
research purposes or that museums are the places that can use them. 

The potential of this latter approach is illustrated by the scheme to collect and 
analyse carcasses of raptors administered by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology 
in the U.K. Advertisements for carcasses were placed in bird journals. This resulted 
in the collection of thousands of specimens over a period of more than thirty years, 
even though the population sizes of the species concerned are not particularly large. 
Although the primary objective was to obtain tissue samples for the analysis of 
pesticide residues (e.g. Newton et al. 1993), the specimens have also been used for 
long-term studies of population ecology (e.g. Newton et al. 1999, Wyllie & Newton 
1999). Hence, we suggest that availability of new specimens need not be an 
impediment to the accumulation of a continuous series. A more pertinent question is 
probably whether museums now have sufficient resources, especially of staff, to 
prepare, document and store increased numbers of specimens. 


We i hank Ian Newton for refereeing the manuscript and making valuable comments. 

Rhys E. Green & Jorn P. W. Scharlemann 175 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


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Addresses: R. E. Green, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Conservation Biology Group, 
Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK; J. P. 
W. Scharlemann, Bird Group, The Natural History Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire 
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Downing Street. Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK 

© British Ornithologists" Club 2003 

Andrew C. Kitchener & RobertY. McGowan 111 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Sudden large samples: 
opportunities and problems 

by Andrew C. Kitchener & RobertY McGowan 


Oilspills and other causes of mass mortalities in birds offer opportunities to study origins, 
biometrics, condition, pathologies and mortality impacts in populations, using statistically 
adequate samples; they also create problems of storage, availability of facilities and staff, 
funding and, most critically, labelling and cross-referencing. Experience at the National 
Museums of Scotland over 25 years, involving in particular divers, gulls, auks and buzzards, 
shows that the first crucial step is to buy time — although an inevitable expense — by freezing 
at least 20 specimens of each sex. If full study skins are too costly (or beyond the expertise 
of available staff) to prepare, preservation of the skeleton, one wing and sometimes the 
tail maximises opportunities for age, moult and other studies; but retaining the 'best' 
specimens may create biases. Preservation of muscle samples for later extraction of DNA 
is highly recommended. Publication of results should not be neglected, irrespective of 
time-lag since accession. Recommendations for procedures when processing oilspill 
samples are appended. 


Although the world's museums are filled with millions of bird skins, skeletons, 
spirit specimens and eggs, it is often difficult to find large enough samples to allow 
for comparisons between closely related species, subspecies or populations within 
species. Therefore, at a taxonomic level it can be almost impossible to determine 
whether apparent discrete geographical variation is real or an artefact of small, 
localised samples (Corbet 1970). It is also rarely possible to obtain information 
from existing collections on pathology, mortality or other aspects of population 
biology, which can be used to assist studies related to the management and 
conservation of species today and in the future. 

In recent years at the National Museums of Scotland (NMS) we have had 
opportunities to study large samples of dead birds, many of which were subsequently 
preserved in a variety of ways for future reference. Most of these birds were either 
casualties of oilspills at sea or from natural 'wrecks' caused by extreme winter weather 
at sea. We are aware that other museums have been involved in analysing oiled dead 
seabirds, although few have placed an emphasis on specimen preparation as at NMS. 
In other cases samples have been collected over a few years by other institutions for 
specific studies and then passed on to NMS for our own use, or they have been the 
result of legal culls. In order to maximise the potential of these opportunistic samples, 
we have collaborated widely with other institutions and organisations, and 
consequently we have made samples available for a wide range of associated studies. 
From these large samples of birds we have carried out studies on age, sex, 
geographical variation/origins, hybridisation, pathology, diet, mortality, moult, etc., 
in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and 

A ndreto ( :. Kitchener & Robert Y. McGowan 1 78 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Liverpool John Moores, and the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (now the Centre for 
Ecology and Hydrology). 

Although large samples create opportunities, they also create huge problems in 
terms of storage of carcasses until needed, the availability of suitable facilities and 
casual staff to process the birds, sufficient funding to cover staff costs and materials 
and, most critically, the labelling and cross-referencing of multiple samples. We 
cannot claim to have solved all of these problems, but we offer our experiences to 
aid and warn others who might wish to embark on similar projects. In order to show 
the kinds of information that can be obtained collaboratively, we also briefly review 
the results of the various studies that have been carried out at NMS over the years on 
large samples of birds that have been acquired opportunistically and often suddenly. 

Opportunities and problems 

Large samples of birds often offer unique opportunities to look at populations in 
detail, which would not be possible under normal circumstances. Oilspills, in 
particular, cause mortality on a scale which would be considered unethical to cause 
intentionally for research purposes. By working with collaborators, it is possible to 
maximise the research potential of these samples. We have worked closely with 
veterinary pathologists from the University of Edinburgh to provide a greater insight 
into the effects of oil on seabirds and the frequencies of various natural diseases that 
afflict bird populations. By combining basic information on age, sex, moult and 
condition with pathological observations, we have been able to look at how pathology 
and mortality affect different segments of populations. We have also supplied fresh 
tissue samples for analyses of the concentrations of organochlorines and heavy metals, 
and for molecular studies. 

In dealing with large samples, there are a number of logistical problems to 
overcome. Assuming that others have organised the collection of, for example, oiled 
seabirds and frozen them for future analysis, there are still the problems of finding 
sufficient funding to carry out a full analysis, suitable facilities where the preliminary 
processing of large numbers of birds can be carried out, and sufficient knowledgeable 
casual staff to work through the birds and prepare them. We were fortunate that in 
dealing with the dead seabirds from the Braer oilspill at Garths Ness, Shetland, in 
January 1993, Scottish Natural Heritage made a small grant available to finance the 
employment of a small number of experienced people for the preparation of voucher 
specimens. Local companies also gave materials generously for use at very short 
notice. In the case of the Sea Empress oilspill near Milford Haven in February 1996 
we were contracted by the Countryside Council for Wales to work on the dead oiled 
seabirds, excluding the Black Scoters Melanitta nigra. However, in both cases the 
level of funding was less than ideal, and NMS covered much of the cost of recording 
and analysing data, preparing specimens and writing reports from its own resources. 
Our other studies on large samples (e.g. Common Buzzards Buteo buteo and Northern 
Fulmars Fulmarus glacialis) are being carried out over longer periods of time as 
staff and volunteer time become available. In all cases it has been absolutely essential 

Andrew C. Kitchener & RobertY. McGowan 179 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

that all the material is frozen, so that time can be taken to plan the work ahead and 
contact potential collaborators, who might need fresh tissue samples. Also, smaller 
batches can then be thawed out to be worked on, thereby preventing deterioration of 
the whole sample. This systematic approach ensures the maximum research benefit 
in terms of multiple uses of each specimen. 

Suitable facilities for the sorting, measuring and sampling of birds are difficult 
to find. By collaborating with the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, we 
were able to use their excellent pathology laboratories which have ample space for 
several people and good facilities for storage of specimens, washing down benches, 
etc., and disposal of unwanted material. In recent years we have used our own (similar 
but smaller) specimen processing and maceration facilities at our West Granton 
Research Centre. 

We have found casual staff through a network of interested ornithologists, 
otherwise unemployed, and some students. Ideally, processing is delayed until student 
holiday periods, so that an abundance of willing workers can be found. This requires 
freezing of the carcasses for several months, which may be difficult. We have used 
commercial cold stores for this, which creates additional expense. We should also 
caution that disposal of oily/detergent water from cleaning specimens should be 
done by a responsible specialist contractor, so that other fauna are not affected by 
liquid waste that would otherwise have been disposed of down drains. Again this 
can create an additional and significant cost. 

One of the key factors in the analysis of large samples is to preserve statistically 
adequate samples of skins and/or skeletons for later research; a minimum of 20 
adults of each sex is essential, but many more would be desirable. However, resource 
constraints often severely limit how many specimens can be prepared. These samples 
provide good data on the extent of shrinkage of skin measurements, which allow for 
comparison between other published studies of living birds. In checking preserved 
samples, we also found that inevitably a few mistakes had been made in the fresh 
measurements, but voucher specimens ensured that these mistakes could be corrected. 
Moreover, in the heat of the moment it is easy to miss the significance of certain 
characters or impossible to take additional measurements or record moult, etc., 
especially if birds are badly oiled. 

The preparation of full study skins can be very time-consuming and is a specialist 
skill. Therefore, particularly in recent years, we have preserved many specimens as 
skeletons, but have retained one complete wing for ageing, moult and measurements. 
For some species, complete tails were also preserved, where these aided ageing 
(e.g. Common Buzzard). The preparation of this type of specimen requires relatively 
unskilled staff and is much quicker than the production of conventional study skins. 
The total number of specimens for large samples prepared since 1978 (and mostly 
since 1993) is shown in Table 1. 

One of the biggest problems after completion of studies like the ones described 
below is finding sufficient time to prepare papers for publication. We have been 
moderately successful at this (see References), but we are all too aware that many 

• raer 

Sea Empress 

Other sources 











Andrew C. Kitchener & Robert Y. McGowan 180 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Numbers of specimens of bird species prepared by NMS from oilspills and other sources since 1978. 

Species Esso Bernicia 

Gavia stellata 

Gavia immer 68 

Podiceps cristatus 
Fulmarus glacialis 
Phalacrocorax aristotelis 
Somateria mollissima 
Clangula hyemalis 

Melanitta nigra 18 

Oxyura jamaicensis 47 

Buteo buteo 180+ 

Larus argentatus 12 

Larus fuscus 25 

Larus mar in us 
Larus glaucoides 

Rissa tridactyla 90 100+ 

Alle alle 
A lea lorda 
Una aalge 
Cepphus grylle 

data still need to be analysed and several papers await completion, e.g. on Red- 
throated Divers Gavia stellata and Black Guillemots Cepphus grylle. It is vitally 
important to not only preserve specimens for future research use, but also to publish 
the results in the scientific literature. 

Finally, the success of projects like the ones described in this paper often rests 
on the enthusiasm and determination of particular individuals. We have been most 
fortunate that the late Douglas Weir dedicated a great deal of his time, often for very 
poor remuneration, to driving forward our efforts on many of the projects described 
below. His considerable ornithological expertise and his fearlessness in the face of 
large piles of dead birds were essential to our success in recent years. 

Oiled seabirds 

NMS has been involved in studies on seabirds from three oilspills, the Esso Bernicia 
in 1 979, the Braer in 1 993 and the Sea Empress in 1 996. The latter two spills involved 
the Pathology Department of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 
pathological examinations of large series of seabirds. Several other collaborators 
were supplied with samples at the time or subsequently. The separate species accounts 
below summarise briefly the significant results of a wide variety of investigations. 













Andrew C. Kitchener & RobertY McGowan 181 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Divers Gavia 

NMS has prepared nearly 100 Great Northern Divers Gavia immer, mostly from the 
Esso Bernicia (1978-1979 at Sullom Voe) and Braer (1993) oilspills in Shetland. 
Wing measurements indicated origins of the Esso Bernicia oilspill birds by 
comparison with measurements from known breeding birds. Wintering Great 
Northern Divers off Shetland consisted of approximately 45% birds from Iceland, 
45% from Greenland and 10% from Canada (Heubeck et ai 1993, Weir et al. 1996a). 
From the estimated total number of Great Northern Divers that died in this spill, it 
was estimated that 10% of breeding females from Iceland were killed, which 
represents a serious level of mortality in this long-lived, slow-breeding bird (Weir et 
al. 1996a). 

We radiographed many carcasses in 1980 to detect lead shot, but in particular 
noted from skeletons from the Braer oilspill that many had non-fatal gunshot wounds, 
i.e. holes that were healing that had been created by bullets or shot. Because the 
carcasses of many of the Esso Bernicia birds had been retained, it was also possible 
to prepare their skeletons and check for similar damage. About 34% of birds had 
non-fatal gunshot wounds and, because we knew of the birds' origins, it was possible 
to observe some regional differences in the use of ammunition. The skeletons of 
birds that had probably originated in Canada invariably had holes made by .22 rifle 
bullets, but Icelandic birds had been damaged by shotgun pellets. 

Auks Alcidae 

The origins of about 200 Guillemots Uria aalge and Razorbills Alca torda were 
investigated from the Sea Empress oilspill. Wing and culmen measurements revealed 
that these were from local breeding populations. It was estimated that mortality 
would be insignificant (<5%), as was shown in the subsequent breeding season (Weir 
et al 1997). 

Gulls Laridae 

About 50 Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla killed by the Braer spill were determined as of 
high-latitude origin from wing measurements (Weir et al. 1996b) and hence their 
mortality had no impact on breeding populations in Shetland. This large sample of 
winter birds provided valuable new information on the moult cycle of the Kittiwake 
(J. Conner pers. comm.), and allowed the testing of a morphometric method for 
determining sex (McGowan & Zonfrillo 1995). 

The Braer spill coincided with an apparent invasion of Iceland Gulls Larus 
glaucoides. Most were nominate glaucoides, but two were of the form kumlieni, 
which had varying amounts of wing-tip melanism. These observations inspired a 
review of Iceland Gull records in Britain (Weir et al. 1995), showing an apparent 
increase in the proportion of kumlieni in invasions since the nineteenth century. We 
also recently completed a taxonomic review of Iceland Gulls which demonstrates 
that L. g. glaucoides has been replaced by L. g. thayeri in the Canadian Arctic and 

A ndrew t :. Kitchener & Robert Y. McGowan 1 82 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

that a variable hybrid (called kumlieni) appears to be spreading eastwards from Baffin 
Island (Weir et al. 2000). 


Wrecks of dead seabirds occur regularly during the winter, although only in a minority 
of cases are the corpses utilised to their fullest potential. It would be valuable to 
study these in detail to see how in composition, pathology, etc., they differ from 
birds killed by oilspills. This could give a greater insight into which segments of 
populations of different species are vulnerable to these major causes of mortality. In 
1 997 a sample of 40 Northern Fulmars was collected from a localised wreck on the 
Northumberland coast. This large sample is currently the subject of a study of 
biometrics, origins and diet. 

A sample of more than 130 wrecked Kittiwakes has also been collected recently 
from the Northumberland coast, which will complement origin, moult and other 
studies carried out on the Braer oilspill sample. 

Samples collected by others 

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo 

We obtained more than 180 Common Buzzards from the Royal Society for the 
Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency (SASA). 
These had been collected over a number of years before being passed to us, thereby 
providing another opportunity for a combined morphometric and pathological 
approach. Scottish Natural Heritage kindly provided a small grant, which allowed 
the bulk of this study to be completed. 

Preliminary findings have been published on a smaller sample of more than 60 
birds, relating pathological findings to age and sex (Redrobe et al. 1997), and a 
paper on the full sample is currently in preparation. Most birds (55%) died from 
trauma or collision and starvation (23%). Poisoning was confirmed in 5% of birds 
(75% of those tested), although only suspicious deaths were investigated owing to 
the high costs of analysis. Gunshot wounds, not necessarily fatal, were present in 
13% of birds. Most birds (73%) were subadults and most (74%) were male. This 
was thought to reflect the male offspring being driven out of parental territories and 
males participating more than females in aggressive territorial behaviour (for which 
see Weir & Picozzi 1975). These males have to survive in suboptimal habitats and 
consequently have a higher risk of death through, for example, foraging for carrion 
at roadsides. Diet was mostly small mammals (40%) and insects (17%). Parasites 
were recorded in 16% of birds, including only the second reported case in the species 
of the nematode Cyathostoma, which occurs in the orbital cavity. 

Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis 

Forty-seven cabinet skins were prepared from recently culled specimens of this duck 
from the British population. We feel it is important that a statistically adequate sample 

Andrew C. Kitchener & RobertY. McGowan 183 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

is taken for this introduced species, in order to determine any morphological changes 
that have occurred through local adaptation and also as a record of the species, if it 
is eventually exterminated. 


Large samples provide excellent opportunities for gathering large amounts of data 
for a wide variety of studies. However, logistically and in terms of resources needed, 
they can be very difficult to carry out. We have been fortunate in that we do have 
facilities for specimen preparation and we have found enthusiastic collaborators, 
small grants and sponsorship-in-kind to assist our efforts. The reward has been to 
initiate many different research projects, which have made maximum use of each 
specimen, and which have resulted in statistically adequate samples of data-rich 
skins, skeletons and wings for our collections. 

There is potentially plenty of material out there. What we all lack are the resources 
to access the abundance of data that could benefit environmental and conservation 
biology. We would like to see a contingency fund established by the oil companies 
to provide immediate support for detailed investigations like those described above. 
Ideally all available specimens would be preserved; we are concerned that 
preservation of the 'best' specimens may be biasing samples and unduly influencing 
our observations. These sudden large samples provide excellent opportunities for 
collaboration between museums and other research institutions, in order to maximise 
the potential for research and preservation of specimens. We would welcome further 
discussion and dialogue with our museum colleagues about how this can best be 


We gratefully acknowledge the thoughts and suggestions of an anonymous referee. 


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26: 105-116. 
Heubeck, M., Richardson, M. G, Lyster, I. H. J. & McGowan, R. Y. 1993. Post-mortem examination of 

great northern divers Gavia immer killed by oil pollution in Shetland, 1979. Seabird 15: 53-59. 
McGowan, R. Y. & Zonfrillo, B. 1995. Pitfalls in sexing kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla on head + bill 

length. Ringing & Migration 16: 124-126. 
Redrobe, S., Weir, D. N., McGowan, R. Y & Kitchener, A. C. 1997. Pathological conditions and cause 

of death relating to age and sex in Eurasian buzzards (Buteo buteo) in Scotland. Pp. 18 1-1 87, Proc. 

Fourth Conference of the European Committee of the Association of Avian Veterinarians. ISSN 

Weir, D. N. & Picozzi, N. 1975. Aspects of social behaviour in the buzzard. Brit. Birds 68: 125-141. 
Weir, D. N., McGowan, R. Y, Kitchener, A. C. McOrist, S., Zonfrillo, B. & Heubeck, M. 1995. Iceland 

Gulls from the 'Braer' disaster, Shetland 1993. Brit. Birds 88: 15-25. 
Weir, D. N., McGowan, R. Y, Kitchener, A.C., McOrist, S. & Heubeck, M. 1996a. Effect of oil spills 

and shooting on great northern divers which winter in Scotland. Dansk. Orn. Foren. Tidsskr. 90: 29- 


A ndrew ( :. Kitchener & Robert Y. McGowan 1 84 Bull. B. O. C. 2003 1 23 A 

Wen. D. N.. Kitchener, A. C. & McGowan, R. Y. 1996b. Biometrics of kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla 

wrecked m Shetland in 1993. Seabird 18: 5-9. 
Wen. D. N.. Kitchener, A. C. McGowan, R. Y., Kinder A. & Zonfrillo, B. 1997. Origins, population 

structure, pathology and diet of samples of diver and auk casualties of the Sea Empress oil spill. 

CCW Contract Science Report 242. 
Weir, D. N.. Kitchener. A. C. & McGowan, R.Y 2000. Hybridization and changes in the distribution of 

Iceland gulls (Larus glaucoides/kumlieni/thayeri). J. Zoology London 252: 517-530. 

Addresses: Andrew C. Kitchener & Robert Y McGowan, Department of Geology and Zoology, National 
Museums of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, UK. E-mails:, 


Recommendations for the processing of dead bird specimens 
from oilspills 

Plan the processing of the bird specimens well. It saves much time and effort, and ensures that data are 
not inadvertently lost. Ensure that all procedures and processes requiring COSSH* and risk assessments 
are considered prior to starting work. Ensure that all temporary staff are fully briefed, trained and have 
read the appropriate COSSH and risk assessments prior to starting work. 

1 . Recording data: Standard data sheets are recommended, in order to ensure that all data are recorded. 
We found that it was more effective having one person writing down the data recorded from one or 
more persons, because of the considerable mess caused by the oil. This limited contamination of 
data sheets by oil and facilitated the detection of anomalous data or measuring errors. 

2. Labelling: It is essential that good labelling is used to prevent loss of data from specimens, especially 
while going through a variety of processes. We have used embossing tape (e.g. Dymo), aluminium 
tape or tags imprinted with numbered metal punches, and plastic plant tags with indelible ink. The 
latter are least successful as the ink may not quite survive the skeletonisation process. All parts of a 
specimen must be labelled, e.g. wing, skeleton, skin, etc. 

3. Samples: The preservation of a muscle sample (e.g. pectoral muscle) for later extraction of DNA is 
highly recommended. NMS stores these deep frozen at "-40°C, although "-70 °C is recommended 
for long-term storage. Alternatively, thin slices of muscle can be preserved in 75% ethanol (not IMS 
[industrial methylated spirit] or formalin) at room temperature. Other kinds of samples may be 
required for other studies (e.g. for PCBs, heavy metals etc.). Have plenty of self-sealing sample 
bags available, on which informaton can be written. It is often useful to place labels in the bags in 
case the writing becomes obscured. It is vital to ensure that all samples are correctly labelled for 
later cross-referencing with other data and specimens. 

4. Measuring: We recommend using plastic dial calipers for bill and tarsus measurements, as these 
can be cleaned more easily. As sand and oil are damaging to the calipers, they should be regulary 
checked for accuracy. Also, they are relatively low cost if they have to be disposed of. For wing 
measurements we recommend standard end-stopped rules (or similar) set into larger measuring 
boards. To ensure consistency, one individual was generally responsible for measuring. 

5. Protective clothing: We have used paper boiler suits with disposable polythene aprons and huge 
numbers of latex gloves. Wellington boots are recommended as footwear. 

Andrew C. Kitchener & RobertY. McGowan 185 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

6. Sorting: Although it is preferable to sample all specimens, this may not be practical owing to very 
large numbers, limited time and high cost. Inevitably, most effort is concentrated on specimens in 
good condition (even if heavily oiled), so that age and sex are most likely to be recordable. Badly 
decaying specimens may not be sexable and may pre-date the oilspill. Be aware that selecting the 
birds in best condition may inadvertently introduce a sampling bias, especially if males and females 
of a species arrive at a location at different times, or if body size and/or condition affect rate of 

7. Measurements and external examination: We record appropriate standard measurements from wing, 
tail, tarsus and bill. It is often not practical to measure body mass, because of oil, sand and water- 
logged plumage. Colouration of the irides and soft parts (bill, face and legs) are recorded if possible 
and appropriate. Relevant plumage characters are noted for ageing, etc. 

8. Internal examination: A selected sample of the birds should be examined by an experienced avian 
pathologist. However, there may be some conditions that can be identified by most recorders with 
some training, e.g. aspergillosis. Crop contents are stored in 70% ethanol or deep frozen for later 
examination. Measurements of gonads (using dial calipers) involve length and width of testes and 
diameter of the largest ovarian follicle. We have attempted to get recorders to measure the bursa of 
Fabricius, but this was often difficult owing to heavy oil contamination and/or internal trauma 
caused by carcasses being crushed at the bottom of heavy storage sacks. The preparation of skeletons 
allows for later examination of skull ossification, but birds prepared for skins should have their 
skull ossifcation recorded at the time of preparation. Subcutaneous and internal fat deposits are 
recorded subjectively on a four-point scale from to 3. As birds begin to decay rapidly once thawed, 
it is important not to thaw out too many birds for a daily examination otherwise valuable data may 
be lost. 

9. Removing the oil from specimens: We have used petrol, paraffin and powerful detergents to remove 
oil from plumage. Appropriate COSSH and risk assessments need to be carried out for all processes 
prior to working on the dead seabirds. 

10. Preparing skeletons: We have used autoclave bags in order to keep skeletons separate during 
maceration at 60°C. We have generally preserved one wing from each skeletonised bird, so that 
wing length, moult and other plumage features can be recorded. This allows for later examination 
and also for the measurement of wing shrinkage to facilitate a suitable correction factor. 

1 1 . Clearing up: All animal waste should be bagged in appropriate polythene sacks, labelled with a 
description of the contents and the address of the institution they have come from, before being 
incinerated. Note that plastic waste and latex gloves may have to be incinerated separately and 
should be bagged and labelled separately. Waste oily water should be left to settle in plastic drums, 
so that the oil can be decanted off for disposal by a specialist company. 

*Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

A. Townsend Peterson et al. 186 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

A global distributed biodiversity information 
network: building the world museum 

by A. Townsend Peterson, David A. Vieglais, 
Adolfo G. Navarro Sigiienza & Marcos Silva 


Biodiversity information is not presently managed in a manner that enables or encourages 
broad, efficient, or novel uses. New technologies that permit integration of biodiversity 
information stored at institutions worldwide into a single biodiversity information facility, 
how ever, have the potential to change this situation. Information integrated from diverse 
institutions and available in quantity greatly empowers a diversity of novel products that 
amply demonstrate the importance of the information resource. We discuss the promise 
and the opportunity, as well as the impediments to assembling a global distributed 
biodiversity information network — effectively a 'world museum', built from the world's 
biodiversity and available to all freely and openly. 


This paper serves to present a major initiative to share biodiversity information on a 
global scale. This effort takes the form of a distributed data network implemented 
over the Internet, permitting full access to biodiversity information to all. The network 
can be seen as a move towards open collaboration by biodiversity scientists, and 
simultaneously as repatriation of information about biodiversity from the countries 
holding that information to the countries where that biodiversity exists in nature. 
The first element of this network was made openly available for worldwide access 
and use in April 1999 — called Species Analyst — and is accessible at http:// It is a project that has grown out of the perception of the need 
for much-improved information services in the biodiversity world, and has been 
adopted and driven forward by a number of institutions around the world. The purpose 
of this paper is to outline the dimensions of the data network, stimulate discussion 
about its implementation, and promote participation by institutions across Europe. 


Biodiversity exploration has seen many biases and imbalances geographically. The 
\ ast storehouse of biodiversity — species diversity and unique taxa — is in the tropics. 
The storehouses of biodiversity information and collections, however, are in the 
Northern Hemisphere, principally in the United States and Europe. 

The scientific exploration and documentation of biodiversity began in earnest in 
the 1700s. The early explorations were initiated by Europeans, later joined by 
investigators from the United States. These explorations were often carried out 
without participation of scientists from the host countries, and information was often 
not returned to or shared with scientists in those countries. Lack of collaboration 
with, or training of, scientists in biodiversity-rich countries further widened the gap 

A. Townsend Peterson et al. 187 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

in information and expertise. Hence, specimens and scientific literature important 
to understanding world biodiversity became concentrated in countries where 
relatively little diversity was actually present. 

The present 

Biodiversity data are currently available in a dispersed system based on institutional 
and national boundaries. Most members of the community of data caretakers (curators 
in natural history museums and herbaria) are more than willing to provide 
information; nevertheless, the system is simply inefficient and difficult to access. 
For this reason, biodiversity studies have not taken full advantage of the information 
in existence. 

Most biodiversity information is stored in the form of scientific collections in 
museums and universities across North America and Europe. This information is 
often not computerised, and is considered the property of individual institutions. 
Hence, access to each collection must be handled on a one-by-one basis, making 
access to the totality of information in existence a laborious task. 

When assistance or access to data is requested, most biodiversity information 
caretakers make information and specimens readily available (Navarro-Sigiienza et 
al. 2002). Requests are accepted by mail or by electronic mail, or visitors are received 
in most collections; in some cases, data are made available freely over the Internet 
(Soberon 1999), but some voices still speak strongly against this idea (Graves 2000). 
The distributed nature of the collections, with important specimen holdings in 10- 
20 countries for most regions of interest, makes such communications or travel 
difficult or even prohibitive for most biodiversity information users, particularly 
those from where the information originated. 

To illustrate the importance of complete biodiversity information, reference can 
be made to the avian dataset for Mexico under preparation as the Atlas of the 
distribution of Mexican birds (Peterson et al. 1998). Here, the contents of 43 scientific 
collections were assembled in a centralised database, totalling more than 300,000 
specimen records for the country. The largest single collection held only 16% of the 
total, so the emergent properties of the large dataset were not realised until the contents 
of numerous collections were aggregated. Since its assembly, however, this dataset 
has been instrumental in advances both in conservation and in basic biology regarding 
Mexican birds (Peterson et al. 1999, Navarro-Sigiienza & Peterson 2000, Navarro- 
Sigiienza et al. 2002, Peterson et al. 2002a). 

In recent years, several programmes aimed at improving the state of biodiversity 
informatics have emerged. Species2000 ( and the Integrated 
Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) ( aim 
to produce a catalogue of all named species in the world, but manage only information 
related to the names of the species, not to their distributions, occurrences or ecology. 
At present, four Internet-based facilities provide a novel form of 'distributed' access 
to biodiversity data: databases located at the institutions that 'own' the data (and the 
specimens most often associated with them) are probed by Internet-based search 

.1. Tovmsend Peterson et al. 188 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

algorithms. These facilities include The Species Analyst, as well as Red Mundial 
para la Information de la Biodiversidad (REMIB) (, 
the Virtual Australian Herbarium ( 
\ irtualherbarium.html) and the European Natural History Specimen Information 
Network (ENHSIN) ( all provide broad 
access to such primary data. Most recently, the Global Biodiversity Information 
Facility (GBIF) was formed to seek means of integrating biodiversity information 
on a global scale, and has adopted much of the distributed model as the basis for its 

At present, the information services in the world of biodiversity information is 
woefully inefficient. Data exist in impressive quantities for many taxonomic groups, 
yet this information is too often difficult to access. Because of the numerous 
impediments to access, biodiversity data are too frequently not included in studies 
and reports that would benefit immensely from their inclusion. This information 
gap leads both to an information undernourishment in many policy decisions, and a 
lack of appreciation of the immense value of biodiversity information held in, for 
example, natural history museums. Large-scale biodiversity conservation studies, 
although focusing on exactly the information in question, are often based only 
minimally, or secondarily, on biodiversity data. For this reason, such studies lack 
analytical power and information completeness, and the results often reflect this 
failing. For these reasons, we propose the expansion of the worldwide distributed 
biodiversity information network to include a broad sampling of European 
institutions, thus uniting data sources in North America and Europe. 

The Species Analyst 


The most complete representation of global biodiversity can be found in the world's 
natural history museums. Although records for museum collections are increasingly 
maintained in electronic format, their use has been hindered by the lack of standard 
methods for search and retrieval from disparate databases. Using ANSI/NISO Z39.50, 
a standard for information retrieval that has proved successful in the bibliographic 
and geospatial domains, and a newer information transfer protocol called XML, it is 
now possible to search and retrieve information from biological collections connected 
by the Internet. 

The Species Analyst is a set of software extensions that enable Z39.50 searches 
from a web interface, as well as from applications such as Microsoft Excel and 
ESRI's Arc View GIS. Users may query multiple collection databases simultaneously 
and, in a matter of seconds, obtain information directly into a client application in a 
form suitable for further analysis. This suite of capabilities provides an infrastructure 
that allows seamless search, retrieval and analysis of a wealth of biodiversity data 
that has hitherto been impossible. Although at present data are served 'as is' — that 
is, names are provided as the owner institution has them, and are not at present 

A. Townsend Peterson et al. 189 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

integrated, translated or otherwise standardised; eventually, connections with efforts 
designed to assemble up-to-the-minute names catalogues will provide this next 
generation of data access. 

The Species Analyst currently provides seamless access to more than 50 million 
specimens in 84 datasets housed at 65 institutions. Committed to participation are 
an additional 69 institutions with datasets principally focused on mammals, reptiles 
and amphibians. Hence, the total of biodiversity data now committed to participation 
is well over 130 institutions and approximately 55 million species-occurrence records. 
Additional millions of species-occurrence records are served via REMIB, Virtual 
Australian Herbarium, and ENHSIN, making for a substantial quantity of biodiversity 
information available worldwide to all users, and most vouched by specimens in 
scientific collections. The customary figure cited for total specimens in world natural 
history museums is about three billion, and best calculations are that about 5% of 
those specimens are now computerised (Krishtalka & Humphrey 2000); by this 
reasoning, about 150 million specimen records exist in electronic form, about 30% 
of which are served or slated to be served by The Species Analyst. 

Applications of the distributed biodiversity network 

The present situation of compartmentalised data and inefficient access constitutes a 
critical bottleneck in biodiversity applications. Once data are united in large, inclusive 
sets, many new possibilities open up for analysis, leading to new dimensions of 
understanding. These new possibilities can be referred to as 'emergent properties' 
of large biodiversity datasets, and further underline the need to enable the information 
currently present in natural history museums, as well as to continue building natural 
history museum collections. Three examples focused in the area of biodiversity 
conservation are presented below. 

Endangered and poorly known species 

In contrast to endangered species in many developed countries (Godown & Peterson 
2000), many species of conservation concern are so poorly known or so rare that 
basic distributional information is unavailable. This problem is even more frequent 
in taxonomic groups less well known than birds. These species clearly present a 
most difficult challenge for biodiversity conservation, given that even the most basic 
information is often lacking. 

An excellent example of a poorly known bird species is the Slaty Finch Haplospiza 
rustica of tropical America. Although more frequently encountered in the South 
American portion of its distribution, its known occurrences in Mexico and northern 
Central America are vanishingly few (Howell & Webb 1995). Populations are so 
poorly known that study and documentation of their taxonomic status, ecological 
characteristics and conservation status are essentially impossible. 

Among scientific specimens of Slaty Finches, two Mexican point localities are 
available (Jalapa, Veracruz, in the 1860s; Volcan Tacana, Chiapas, in the 1950s) 

A. TiKcuscnJ Pcrci 

et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

from Mexico. Modelling the ecological requirements of the species using GARP 
( StockweU & Noble 1992, Stockwell 1999, Stockwell & Peters 1999, Peterson etal. 
2002b). a map of potential distributional areas for the species can be developed 
(Fig. 1). Although this map is very general, and probably overly inclusive given a 
possible connection with stands of bamboo, it provides a useful first step in outlining 
areas for search and inventory for the species in field efforts. In this particular case, 
a recent record (G. Escalona-Segura unpubl. data.) coincided exactly with one 
predicted potential distributional area (see arrow, Fig. 1). Using better-known species, 
these predictive methodologies have been put to more rigorous, statistical tests 
(Peterson et al. 2002b), providing convincing evidence that distributional models 
can be developed for many rare and poorly-known species. 

Conservation prioritisation 

Once the possibility exists of predicting geographic distributions of species with 
precision, a clear next step is that of predicting distributions of suites of species of 

Figure 1 . Distributional prediction (grey shading) for Slaty Finches Haplospiza rustica in Mexico based 
on two known specimen localities (black stars), showing third site discovered in 1995 (arrow). 

A. Townsend Peterson et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

V ^ 


^ / 

ttA7 \ 

C \ 1 K> > V 

,—x^ ( \ r- 

^"^—X^ \* 

~~~~" - ^-i '' ** 


Figure 2. Richness of 16 species endemic to western Mexican tropical dry forests, showing increasing 
species richness as darker shades of grey. Locations of two biosphere reserves are shown with stars, 
coinciding with primary concentration of 12 species; the arrow indicates a secondary concentration, in 
which all four remaining species are represented. 

special interest, and taking their joint distribution as conservation priorities. For 
instance, one might model the distributions of all endangered or endemic species in 
a region, and then identify resulting foci of species co-occurrence as priority areas. 
This approach has important advantages over past approaches (e.g. Bojorquez-Tapia 
et al. 1995), in that individual species' distributions are the input into the decision- 
making process, allowing the design of truly inclusive reserve systems, perhaps 
using algorithms aimed at maximising complementarity among areas (Peterson et 
al. 2000). 

As an example of these possibilities, Kluza & Peterson (unpublished) modelled 
the geographic distributions of all 16 bird species endemic to the dry tropical forests 
of south-western Mexico. Individual species' distributions were overlaid, and a map 
of endemic species richness was created (Fig. 2). One area on this map in northern 
Guerrero (labelled 'A') represented a peak of species richness, including 12 of the 
16 species; this area coincided well with two existing biosphere reserves. The 
remaining four species, however, were not protected by any biosphere reserves, and 
co-occurred in north-western Oaxaca. This area, in particular if avian patterns are 
coincident with those in other taxonomic groups, could be taken as a clear priority 
area for conservation action (Kluza & Peterson unpublished). 

A. Toamsend Peterson et al. 192 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Global climate change and conservation planning 

As a further demonstration of the flexibility and promise of the data and analytical 
approaches described herein, a final level of complexity can be added, taking into 
account the influence of global climate change on species' geographic distributions. 
Global climate change, rather than being simply 'global warming', rather represents 
a series of reorganisations of climatic processes, and therefore requires a series of 
complex modelling efforts. This work provides a first step towards a robust 

In the GARP modelling process employed above, distributional predictions are 
derived from models of distribution in ecological dimensions, effectively a model 
of the ecological niche of the species (Peterson et al. 2002b). To the extent that 
ecological niches present stable sets of constraints on species' distributions over 
moderate periods of time (e.g. Peterson et al. 1999), distributions of species in a 
changing environment may be taken as the distributions of their ecological niches 
through those changes. Projections of these niche models to modeled future climates 
provide estimates of future potential distributions of species (Peterson et al. 2001, 
Peterson et al. 2002a). 

As an illustration, we have modelled the potential future distribution of West 
Mexican Chachalaca Ortalis poliocephala under two scenarios of change in the 
Hadley simulation (Pope et al. 2002) of global climate change (50 yr of 0.5-1.0%/ 
yr CO, increase, with and without sulphate aerosol forcing). The present geographic 
distribution (Fig. 3) is more or less continuous along the western coast of Mexico. 
Through the simulated scenario of climate change, however, although coastal portions 
of the species's modelled distribution remain intact, the interior portions of Mexico 
become largely uninhabitable for the species. Of species that we have modelled 
similarly (Peterson et al. 2001, 2002a), we see a diversity of responses, including 
extinction, fragmentation and expansion. The conservation prioritisations presented 
above, then, would have to be adjusted to take into account these modified 
expectations of species' distributions over very short horizons of time. 

The proposal 

The goal 

The principal objective of the Species Analyst and related efforts to build a global 
distributed biodiversity information system is to spark collaboration and cooperation 
among biodiversity scientists via open access to biodiversity data. The project will 
effectively end the present compartmentalised system, in which access to information 
is on an institution-by-institution basis, and move the field towards worldwide 
integration — a virtual 'world museum', in which barriers to information access 
disappear. Information taken from countries over several centuries will become 
openly accessible to all, effectively constituting repatriation of biodiversity data. 
Matching improved access to information with open sharing of expertise and software 

A. Townsend Peterson et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 3. Projected effects of global climate change on the geographic distribution of the West Mexican 
Chachalaca Ortalis poliocephala: present distribution is shown in grey and black, and projected post- 
change distribution is in black; specimen-based distributional points are shown as dotted circles. 

will lead to a qualitative leap forward in ability to use biodiversity information 

Whereas most North American institutions are participating, at least in part, in 
The Species Analyst, few European institutions are currently linked to the network. 
Although European distributed data initiatives are beginning (e.g. ENHSIN), they 
lag behind the American efforts in serving a major portion of the biodiversity 
information stored in European institutions. Clearly, this difference derives from a 
variety of reasons. However, prominent among them is the fact that very few European 
natural history museum collections are at present computerised, obviously making 
serving data impossible. (Of course, it should be pointed out that several important 
American bird collections are also not computerised — e.g. American Museum of 
Natural History — or are only partially computerised — e.g. U.S. National Museum 
of Natural History — so the contrast is not entirely black versus white!) 

A. Toumsend Peterson et al. 194 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

An action plan 

For each European institution potentially interested in participating, the procedure 
for integrating data via the distributed database systems is quite simple. Basic 
requirements are ( 1 ) electronic data, (2) Internet connectivity, and (3) the institutional 
'will* to share data. In particular, it will be necessary to identify collections that 
have been computerised to a degree that participation is possible. 

Institutions wishing to participate and holding appropriate datasets will need to 
fulfil three conditions. First, data must exist in electronic format. Second, the data 
must be on a computer with a reasonably fast Internet connection (i.e. not based on 
a phone modem connection) (in cases in which fast Internet connections are available 
at other institutions nearby, it may be possible to deposit copies of collections 
databases for serving from those institutions). Finally, the data must be in a database 
management system that accepts SQL (Standardised Query Language) queries, 
permitting a base level of access to the information. 

The actual connection process is relatively simple. For the present, consultation 
with technicians working for one of the distributed data networks is necessary. 
Generally in an afternoon or so of consultation, the appropriate software can be 
installed, and data are connected in short order. These software packages are still in 
phases of development, and for that reason the process still requires some technical 
expertise; soon, however, the connection process should be considerably simpler, 
with software installed and configured in a point-and-click environment. 

Future view 

The Internet, through developments such as The Species Analyst, offers for the first 
time the possibility of widespread integration of information in existence worldwide 
about biological diversity. These advances make possible a rapid shift from the 
previous situation (closed institutional resources) to an exciting new one — 
information can be integrated across regional, national, taxonomic and institutional 
boundaries to provide a resource never before possible. Already, this improved access 
to information has been instrumental in stimulating novel approaches to predicting 
species invasions (Peterson & Vieglais 2001), design of endangered species 
conservation efforts (Godown & Peterson 2000), design of efforts to combat 
agricultural pests (Sanchez-Cordero & Martinez-Meyer 2000), understanding 
ecological niche evolution (Peterson etal. 1999), and predicting the effects of global 
climate change on species distributions (Peterson et al. 2001, 2002a), etc. In this 
way, the totality of biodiversity information can be applied to critical questions, 
such as biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, land use planning, 
and others. 

These steps remove a critical impediment — that of access to information — and 
allows scientists and decision-makers worldwide to proceed to new levels of 
understanding. Data served over the distributed network can be improved via iterative 
sweeps of standardisation, adding value, and error detection, which can serve to 

A. Townsend Peterson et al. 195 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

improve the information resource markedly. We expect these shifts in how 
biodiversity science is 'done' to make possible large-scale improvements in the quality 
of information products and scientific studies based on biodiversity information. In 
the shorter term, these new tools can provide the medium for cooperation among 
many institutions, uniting scientific efforts in North America and Europe with similar 
efforts elsewhere. 


The basic principle of the Species Analyst data network is that of free and open 
access to data and technology. The development of the network has depended on 
combining this philosophy with careful political negotiations and innovative 
technologies. The result is a network that has grown rapidly to serve a significant 
portion of existing data in natural history museum collections worldwide. Taxa in 
the data network include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, butterflies and 
other insects, and plants. The network is growing rapidly, and is on track to become 
an all-taxon, worldwide distributed biodiversity data network. In this paper, we have 
illustrated some of the possibilities that open up to investigators once data are shared 
openly and integrated with modern tools. In the field that we chose for illustration 
(biodiversity conservation), synthetic models were developed that greatly exceed 
present capabilities for most regions. Moreover, because of the open-frame approach 
of the data network, these possibilities exist for almost any region and taxon on 
earth, without great investment of time and resources to obtain data for analysis. 

As a postscript to this contribution, the original manuscript was prepared in 1999, 
in the midst of a period of rapid development, in both technology and politics of 
biodiversity information. On the technological side, many important advances have 
been made in making the software solutions broadly applicable, stable, fast and 
reliable. Several distributed biodiversity information networks now exist, and many 
are collaborating on a next-generation technology that should allow integration of 
all of the networks into a single global distributed biodiversity information network. 
On the political side, some aspects have changed dramatically, and others have not 
changed dramatically. On the side of change, the initiation of the Global Biodiversity 
Information Facility has emphasised the need for participation in data-sharing efforts 
within each member country, and has sparked many exciting steps forward in the 
assembly of efficient biodiversity information services around the world. On the 
side of no change, some workers in the field — including curators at important and 
large natural history museums — continue to resist the idea of bringing natural history 
museums into the information age. One can only hope that these persons and their 
ideas can evolve as the idea of global sharing of such important information becomes 
more and more the rule, and no longer the exception. 


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species. Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 1313-1322. 
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Addresses: A. Townsend Peterson, Natural History Museum, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 
66045 U.S.A.; David A. Vieglais, Natural History Museum, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, 
Kansas 66045 U.S.A.; Adolfo G. Navarro Sigiienza, Museo de Zoologfa, Facultad de Ciencias, 
Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico, Apartado Postal 70-399, Mexico, D.F. 04510 Mexico; 
Marcos Silva, North American Biodiversity Information Network, Commission for Environmental 
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© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

Anthony S. Cheke 197 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Treasure Island — the rise and decline of a small 
tropical museum, the Mauritius Institute 

by Anthony S. Cheke 


In early nineteenth century Mauritius — the Indian Ocean island famous for the Dodo — 
Mien Desjardins and other local naturalists made collections of Mascarene biota, much 
of which is now extinct. This material formed the basis of a museum opened to the public 
in 1842. It was moved, together with a new public library, to the purpose-built Mauritius 
Institute in 1885. Throughout its first 140 years the collections, including many rare, 
unique and often irreplaceable specimens, were expanded and generally well looked after, 
until the early 1980s when cumulative underfunding and seriously inappropriate 
management led to a very disturbing deterioration of the collections, with specimens 
being lost and destroyed. Remedial action to stabilise what remains is technically simple 
but less straightforward socio-politically. As similar problems exist in many parts of the 
world, a 'Red List' of endangered collections should be compiled to provide a basis for 
prioritised action, and twinning museums at risk with well-endowed ones might also prove 
useful. [As the text was written in 1999, a postscript on recent remedial action to late 
2002 is added.] 


In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when museums were young and 
preservation techniques rudimentary, it was standard practice to throw out decayed 
specimens and replace them with new. Such a clear-out is popularly supposed to 
have taken place at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum in 1755, when the unique but 
decaying stuffed Dodo Raphus cucullatus is said to have been consigned, with other 
specimens, to be destroyed (MacGregor 1983). "By a lucky accident ... the head and 
one of the feet were saved from the flames" (Strickland & Melville 1848) 1 . 

We would not, however, expect this kind of thing to happen today, and yet I 
regret to say that the same story in fact applies to the recent history of the Mauritius 
Institute, the museum in the very land from which those Dodos came — one of the 
oldest museums in the Southern Hemisphere and one whose collections are literally, 
like the Dodos, irreplaceable. 

Mauritius is an isolated volcanic island of some 1,865 km 2 , situated in the Indian 
Ocean at 20° S, 840 km east of Madagascar. Together with Reunion (164 km south- 
west) and Rodrigues (574 km east), it forms part of the group known as the Mascarene 
Islands (Montaggioni & Nativel 1988, Strahm 1996), which although rather far- 
flung have a strongly coherent biota, and are famous for their distinct (and largely 
extinct) endemic fauna (Cheke 1987a,b, Quammen 1996). This highly endemic 
wildlife survived into historical times because the islands escaped the attentions of 
human colonists until the late sixteenth century. 

The histories of Mauritian and Mascarene wildlife, ornithology and museums 
have been intertwined since the beginning. The very first public museum in Britain, 

Anthony S. Cheke 198 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

John Tradescant's 'Ark' in Lambeth (founded around 1630, and later absorbed into 
Elias Ashmole's museum in Oxford) contained what were then unusual objects of 
presen at ion. stuffed birds: among them was a Mauritian Dodo, one of a number to 
reach England in the 1620s/1630s (MacGregor 1983, Cheke 1987a). Its head and 
foot remain to this day the oldest surviving example of a bird skin. A specimen of an 
extinct Reunion tortoise was brought alive to Paris in 1671, and its carapace, the 
type of Testudo indica, survives there (Austin et al. 2002). Rodrigues, in 1690, was 
the scene of the first recorded account of territoriality in birds — Leguat's observations 
on the soon-to-be-extinct Solitaire Pezophaps solitarius (Armstrong 1953, Cheke 
1987a). Birds from Reunion formed an important part of the Cabinet du Roi in Paris 
described by Brisson in 1760, and that decade also saw, on both Mauritius and 
Reunion, the first known example of biological control: Common Mynas Acridotheres 
tristis were introduced in 1767 to control locusts, and were given legal protection 
(another first) to ensure success (Cheke 1987a). French naturalists based on the 
islands corresponded with Buffon and others in Paris, and a number of scientific 
expeditions made collections in the 1700s and early 1800s (Cheke 1987a). 

Origins of the natural history museum in Mauritius 

By the early 1800s a number of naturalists were active in Mauritius and making 
collections. These included Charles Telfair, polymath, ex-ship's doctor, sometime 
Colonial Secretary for the island and sugar planter (Michel 1935), who had the ear 
of the new British administration. His own material, given to the Zoological Society 
of London, was dispersed and largely lost when the Society's collections were sold 
in 1855 (Wheeler 1997). In 1826 Telfair prompted two local collectors, zoologist 
Julien Desjardins and botanist Louis Bouton, to offer their material to the state, in 
the form of the British Governor Sir Lowry Cole, to form the core of a proposed 
'colonial museum'. This generous offer met with no response from the Governor, 
however, so in 1829 Telfair invited Bouton, Desjardins and other local naturalists, 
notably botanist/explorer Wenceslas Bojer and seafaring zoophile Francois Lienard 
(all names very familiar to anyone who knows the Mascarene lizard fauna), to a 
meeting at which the Societe d'Histoire Naturelle de lTle Maurice was founded 
(Ly-Tio-Fane 1972). Desjardins, who had meanwhile set up a museum privately in 
his own house on his estate at Argy ( Flacq district; Bouton 1877), went to Paris in 
1 839 to write a natural history of the island, but died there prematurely in 1840. His 
widow, determined that the collection should remain in Mauritius to honour her 
husband's dedication, presented his collections to the Society (Bouton 1842). Bouton 
added his plants, and together with Adrien d'Epinay's library (also recently left to 
the Society), the ensemble was finally opened to the public in 1842 as the Museum 
Desjardins, in a wing of the Royal College in Port Louis, with Bojer as curator (Pike 
1873, Ly-Tio-Fane 1972). This time the government provided the space and also 
half of the salary of the curator and his taxidermist (Ly-Tio-Fane 1972). Bouton 
( 1 85 1 ) reported that 4,278 people visited the museum in its first five years; at the 
time only some 10,000 of the island's population (the white ruling class and some of 

Anthony S. Cheke 199 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

the Creoles: Toussaint 1972) would have been allowed access to the Royal College 
and had sufficient education to be interested in a museum. 

Visitors from abroad often commented on the collection. Mouat (1852) called it 
an 'excellent museum ... worthy of his [Bojer's] great and widely established 
reputation'. By contrast in 1862, Edward Newton, colonial official and ornithologist, 
wrote disparagingly to his brother Alfred (soon to be professor of zoology at 
Cambridge) that 'it is quite disheartening [to have] anything to do with the museum, 
there is not a soul who cares or knows about ornithology in the island, though perhaps 
some of them would be most offended at my saying so' (MS letter book in the Alfred 
Newton papers, Cambridge University Library). Although Newton was later president 
of the Society in the 1870s {Trans. Royal Society of Arts and Sciences of Mauritius, 
passim), he never contributed any collections to the museum. Nicholas Pike (1973), 
American consul, naturalist and raconteur, was more upbeat: 'The natural history 
collections of the Society in their museum are fine and rare, but not extensive. Besides 
the fauna of Mauritius, that of Madagascar, southern Africa and the neighbouring 
islands is well represented.' 

Despite the initial goodwill, the new museum was seriously underfunded. Bojer 
died discouraged in 1856; the indefatigable Bouton took over, but it was not until 
1863, with the arrival of Sir Humphry Barkly as Governor, that things began to 
improve (Bouton 1877). Finally, in 1877, Governor Sir Arthur Phayre made proposals 
for a purpose-built museum, and accepted a report from the Society (by now the 
Royal Society of Arts and Sciences of Mauritius [RSAS]) recommending that a new 
institution be set up to comprise the museum and a public library, and to have in 
addition a dedicated educational function (RSAS 1878), to be fully funded by the 
government. Ordinance No. 19 of 1880 (see Mauritius Almanac for 1881) provided 
for 'the erection, establishment and regulation of a Mauritius Institute, a Public 
Museum and Public Library' to promote 'the general study and cultivation of the 
various branches and departments of arts, science, literature and philosophy, and for 
the instruction and recreation of the people'. The Governor was authorised in the 
Ordinance to vote funds to 'erect within the town of Port Louis a building' to house 
the Institute; the result was the construction of a fine new edifice in a very prominent 
central site in the capital, which was bought and cleared of existing buildings 
(Macmillan 1914). Work began promptly, and the new Mauritius Institute was 
formally opened (two governors later) in December 1884 for a colonial exhibition, 
with the museum and library moving there in January 1885 (Daruty 1885, Koenig 
1939, Ly-Tio-Fane 1979). They are in the same building today, although the Institute 
now also controls two other smaller museums containing historical, artistic and other 
material (Tirvengadum 1980). 

The importance of the collections 

One might imagine that a small museum in a small country would contain little of 
international importance, but with the Mauritius Institute this is very far from the 
case. I do not propose to list all its treasures, and indeed I do not know what unique 

Anthony S. Cheke 200 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

invertebrates it may still contain, but any one of the following would justify a special 
place on a world level of collections. The museum contains (Cheke & Jones 1987, 
Cowles 1987, Staub 1993) the only extant skeletons of the large extinct flightless 
rail Aphanapteryx bonasia and the extinct giant skink Leiolopisma (=Didosaurus) 
mauritiana', one (the last individual ever recorded) of only three specimens of the 
extinct endemic Pigeon Hollandais Alectroenas nitidissima; a Reunion Starling 
Fregilupus ravins (extinct and one of only 18 or so surviving specimens); one of the 
very few specimens of the probably extinct monotypic endemic burrowing boa 
Bolyeria mitlticarinata from Round Island; two good Dodo skeletons (including the 
only one articulated solely from a single individual) and a general collection of 
extant endemic vertebrate fauna which is not particularly well represented in any 
other museum. The pigeon and starling come from Desjardins's original collection; 
one Dodo from Theodore Sauzier's excavations in 1891-1892; the other, with the 
rail and the skink, from Mauritian barber Etienne Thirioux's spare-time excavations 
around the turn of the century and first exhibited in 1903 (d'Emmerez de Charmoy 
1903, Koenig 1939). 

The birds held in the museum were enumerated by Rountree et al. (1952) and 
again (data collected 1974-1983) by Cheke & Jones (1987); it would be interesting 
to repeat the census today. In addition there are extensive collections of insects, 
marine invertebrates and fish, although the highly endemic land-snail fauna, of which 
many representatives are already extinct (Griffiths 1997), is under-represented (pers. 
obs.). The herbarium (originally Bouton's) was removed to Pamplemousses Gardens 
in 1 868 — where it was disastrously curated and almost ruined in 1 899 when thrown 
into rat-infested outhouses to make way for a temporary isolation hospital — and 
only returned to the Institute in the mid- 1930s after having been rescued and sorted 
by Reginald Vaughan (Vaughan 1969). In 1960 it was combined with two other 
collections as the Mauritius Herbarium, under Vaughan as curator, and installed in 
air-conditioned premises at the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI) 
at Le Reduit (Vaughan 1969). 

Recent history of the Mauritius Institute 

When first established in the 1880s the museum was under a Board of Directors 
with quasi-independent status under the Colonial Secretary. In 1929 a proposal by 
the Board to become a formal Government Department (Ingrams et al. 1929) was 
not acted on, though the public displays were re-worked (Koenig 1939). In 1940 a 
new ordinance restructured the Board and its functions (Michel 1980). However, in 
1957 the museum was attached to the Ministry of Education and Culture, and in 
1967, the year before Mauritius became independent, a Public Service Commission 
was established which relieved the board of its ability to choose staff (Michel 1980, 
Tirvengadum 1980). Apart from a hiatus from 1913 to 1941 during which W. E. 
Hart, followed by his son the poet Robert Edward Hart (literary figures without any 
knowledge of natural history) were in charge (Tirvengadum 1980), the curatorship 
has always been given to a notable local biologist or naturalist (who also oversaw 

Anthony S. Cheke 201 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

the library). Nonetheless, during the Harts' curatorship, local naturalists were very 
actively involved in the running of the natural history collections (Ingrams 1929, 
Koenig 1939). In 1946, following the 1940 ordinance, the new senior post of director 
was established, under whom served the curator and a librarian. The first incumbent 
was Dr Reginald Vaughan, founder of plant ecological studies in Mauritius, followed 
by Jean Vinson, an entomologist and herpetologist who did much to draw attention 
to the uniqueness of and threats to Round Island, and then by marine biologist Claude 
Michel, who has devoted a lifetime to science education in Mauritius. Unfortunately 
when Claude Michel, already curator, succeeded to the directorship, it then took the 
Public Service Commission 12 years to appoint a new curator! (Michel 1980). 

On the occasion of the Institute's centenary in 1980 the then director, botanist 
Deva D. Tirvengadum, reminded fellow Mauritians that one of the Institute's 
functions was 'the preservation, enrichment and systematic study of all its precious 
collections', and that the 'functions of conservation, research and education are tied 
to the good curation of collections'. He continued prophetically: '...the essential 
task is to protect the collections from all forms of deterioration and the various 
attacks from men or the elements to which they could be victim' (Tirvengadum 
1980; my translation and italics). Emphasising the need to understand the real value 
of the collections, he complained that the staffing was 'primordial', and that it was 
essential to restructure the concept of museums in Mauritius, have proper technical 
consultative back-up, and apply for funds from UNESCO and other international 

Tirvengadum's article was an outburst from a discouraged successor to Bojer; 
he left shortly afterwards for pastures abroad, his clear call for remedial restructuring 
ignored. The dire result of depriving the Board of Directors of appointing powers 
was then made all too evident with the failure of the Public Service Commission to 
find and appoint a new director. The then curator, R.Gajeelee, a zoology graduate 
but without training in museum or library management, was left in charge as acting 
director, a position he continued to occupy for nearly 20 years. 

In 1982, faced with deteriorating conditions and losses of priceless books, the 
Royal Society of Arts and Sciences of Mauritius, which had been so instrumental in 
founding the Institute, removed its library to new secure air-conditioned premises 
adjacent to the Herbarium, provided by the MSIRI (RSAS 1983). I visited the Institute 
in 1985 to consult a manuscript and was struck by the disarray in its archival 
collection. By the time of my next visit in 1996, some major improvements had 
been made in parts of the public display area and one of Andrew Kitchener's thin 
Dodo models acquired. However, stories from local naturalists alleged that the 
museum's reserve collections were being totally neglected, and that specimens of 
rare endemic species were being thrown away because they were supposedly 'moth- 
eaten'. The Mauritius Institute Bulletin, a reputable vehicle for local faunal and 
biological studies since 1937, edited by the director, had not appeared since 1984; 
Gajeelee had published only one issue. In 1997 and 1998 two senior visiting British 
museum curators confirmed the lamentable conditions. One reported to me that 

Anthony S. Cheke 202 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

museum staff proposed to throw away an alcohol specimen of the extinct endemic 
snake Bolyeria multicarinata (one of about 6 in the world) because the head broke 
o\\ when the brittle specimen was removed from its bottle. Clearly the museum had 
lost curatorial perspective. 

This situation has had direct and negative repercussions for Mauritian science. 
Since 1973 there has been a pro-active international wildlife conservation project in 
place on the island (Jones & Hartley 1995), coinciding with the beginning with the 
British Ornithologists' Union Mascarene Islands Expedition (Diamond 1987). 
Initially there was active collaboration with the museum (pers. obs. 1973-1975, C. 
G. Jones pers. comm.) but during Gajeelee's tenure, the project, currently under the 
umbrella of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, became increasingly wary of 
involvement with the museum, and took to sending all valuable specimens abroad. 
Such specimens, and those deriving from captive-breeding projects at Jersey Zoo, 
still technically belong to the Mauritius Government (Cooper et al. 1 998). Meanwhile, 
in total contrast, the now properly curated Mauritius Herbarium, under the auspices 
of the MSIRI, thrives, and has played a pivotal part in the compilation of a major 
new Mascarenes flora, the Flore des Mascareignes (Bosser et al. 1976-), in 
collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the U.K. and ORSTOM in 
France. No equivalent faunal collaboration would be possible under recently 
prevailing conditions, whereas in neighbouring Reunion the equivalent (and almost 
equally valuable) Museum d'Histoire Naturelle under Sonia Ribes and [in 1999] 
Mathieu Le Corre is actively involved in projects with overseas institutions. 

I returned to Mauritius in early June 1999 to work on a book project with a 
colleague. We went with some trepidation to the museum, only to discover that the 
acting director had died in post a fortnight earlier; he had allegedly been physically 
and mentally unfit for some years, but had nonetheless been allowed to remain in 
office. The Commission moved quickly to appoint a successor, S. Abdoolrahaman, 
who was thought to be in line for the permanent job. In my conversations with him 
in June 1999 it was clear that he was fully aware of the museum's plight and well 
disposed to receiving foreign aid to help get the museum back on its feet. 

The museum in Reunion has been recently renovated (1995-1996), exploiting 
regional assistance money available in Paris for such projects (pers. obs. 1973- 
1999; S. Ribes pers. comm.). This is of course easier in an overseas departement of 
France than for independent Mauritius, but it provides a model for what could be 
done in the Mauritius Institute. I have no doubt that funds for such a project could be 
found in the EC, UNESCO or the Commonwealth — the only stumbling block being 
that the request for the aid must come from the Mauritius Government. In fact, 
Mauritius did commission the University of Texas to report on the future of the 
museum in around 1996 (S. Abdoolrahaman, pers. comm., June 1999), but the 
recommendations have been neither disclosed nor implemented. A French-funded 
consultant, Emmanuel Richon, has been working with the Mauritius Institute's three 
museums for the last two or three years reorganising the public displays in a more 
'modern' idiom; at the time of writing [November 1999] he had not reached the 

Anthony S. Cheke 203 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

natural history section, although he has been instrumental in getting the main building 
re-roofed (it had been leaking for years). However, his brief was with educational 
displays, and he did not have much to do with the reserve collections. 

Constraints and solutions 

Many people in Mauritius were long aware of the problem with the museum, but 
felt unable to act. One reason is its system of governance, since the lack of executive 
power placed the Board of Directors, however well-intentioned, in an impossible 
situation. It is also the case that, as in many other parts of the world, those working 
with or in government are reluctant to jeopardise their projects or jobs by raising the 
issue of the museum, however bad they may personally feel about it. Moreover, 
there is an understandable cultural difficulty resulting from the numerical and political 
dominance of a community originating from immigrants from India. Many feel 
stronger historical ties to the subcontinent than to the European colonial history of 
an island whose endemic fauna and flora was largely destroyed by western colonists 
long before the period of Indian immigration began (1830s: Toussaint 1972, Addison 
& Hazareesingh 1993). Recent governments have given higher priority to a museum 
and institute commemorating Mahatma Gandhi, though he only visited the island 
once, briefly, in 1901 (Addison & Hazareesingh 1993). Low official interest in the 
lost native biota may also be unconsciously related to the fact that average Mauritians 
(of whatever ethnic origin) see so little of it in their daily lives. Every familiar flower, 
tree, snail, insect, mammal or bird — bar a few butterflies, one bird and a couple of 
bats and palms — is an exotic, and has been since their great-great-grandparents' 
lifetimes. What they think of as typically Mauritian plants and animals are the 
everyday tropical species they meet in their gardens and countryside, whereas the 
endemics seen in the museum are as foreign to them as kangaroos or ostriches. 

Is the museum more important to Westerners than it is to Mauritians? The West 
should perhaps overtly acknowledge its central role in the destruction of Mauritian 
wildlife, and its enduring interest in preserving the lost remnants of that biota in the 
museum. The natural history museum in Mauritius is in essence a European cultural 
and historical legacy, and perhaps it lies with Westerners to help maintain it, as has 
already been implicitly accepted in the international conservation programmes 
devoted to protecting the surviving native wildlife. In reality, of course, there are 
many Mauritians who fully understand and support the museum, and some sort of 
partnership must therefore be possible. Perhaps a way forward might be for the 
concerned museum fraternity to compile a kind of 'Red List' of underfunded and 
endangered museums and collections. It should be emphasised that these are by no 
means all in developing countries — in seeking an old Mauritian specimen I well 
recall the dismal plight of the Hancock Museum in Newcastle, U.K., in the 1970s 2 
(see also Jessop 1999). This list could then be used to offer assistance to places 
housing such collections, in much the same way as wildlife conservation projects 
are often initiated and run. 'Twinning' a well-appointed museum with a less favoured 

Anthony S. Cheke 204 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

one. as is often done between towns, might also provide benefits and a useful 
interchange of personnel and ideas. 

Postscript, October 2002 

With minor adjustments, the above account remains more or less as it was written in 
1999, as trying to update it within the text would have resulted in a loss of the 
immediacy that formed an important part of its message when given as a talk at the 
conference. However, things have moved on, and the following postscript brings 
the situation up to date, bearing out the more optimistic outlook immediately evident 
following the appointment of Mr Abdoolrahaman. 

Following the leak of a draft of this paper to the Mauritian press in May 2000, 
prompting a critical article by Marylene Francois in Weekend on 4 June, the Acting 
Director wrote me a pained letter asking for specific details, which I supplied. This 
exchange triggered, or at least accelerated, action to rectify the 20 years of dereliction. 
The Netherlands was already funding archaeological work under Dr Peter Floore on 
seventeenth-century Dutch settlement sites; bird and mammal bones were turning 
up in their middens, and it was a natural extension to look towards the subfossil 
bones kept in the Port Louis museum. At Mr Abdoolrahaman's invitation, the project 
funded Julian Hume of the U.K. Natural History Museum (Tring), who was already 
working on the Dutch bird bones, and was the colleague who had visited the museum 
with me in 1999, to make a rapid survey in June 2001 of the reserve collections to 
assess their status and make recommendations for their proper curation. Hume's 
brief report (Hume 2001) reveals that while some of the missing items (e.g. bird 
skeletons) had simply been hidden in an inaccessible attic, other specimens were 
indeed in a deplorable state: butterflies and some mounted skins were ruined by 
damp and pests, and the spirit collection, containing much lizard type material (Vinson 
& Vinson 1969, Cheke 1975), had completely dried out. Some progress had already 
been made in rescuing skin and insect specimens and treating them with insecticide. 
There was no time then to make an inventory (so allegedly missing bird skins were 
not checked), but a Dutch member of Dr Floore's team is currently at work in the 
museum (J. Hume pers. comm.), and hopefully the new enthusiasm and international 
collaboration will result in the restoration of the museum's reputation and its central 
place in Mauritian biology. 

It has also recently been announced (Maureemootoo 2002) that the Mauritius 
Institute Bulletin is to be re-launched in early 2003, reviving after nearly 20 years' 
absence this important local vehicle for faunistic and floristic studies. 


1. Although widely disseminated and believed this story is not actually true. Ovenell (1992) has 
documented through archival records the real version, in which new curator William Huddesford 
was doing his duty in preserving what could be preserved of deteriorating specimens, in the Dodo's 
case the head and toot; effective preservation techniques had yet to be discovered. There was no 
fire — this was a colourful invention of Strickland's. In the early 1700s there were two other stuffed 

Anthony S. Cheke 205 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Dodos in Oxford, in the Anatomy School (MacGregor 1983) — these did indeed disappear without 
trace (A. V. Simcock, pers. coram.). 
2. Marmaduke Tunstall, whose collections formed the basis of the Hancock Museum, had a live 
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra in his aviaries in the mid- 1700s, later preserved as a mounted specimen, 
when it was illustrated by Peter Brown (1776). The skin was there in 1827 (Fox 1827), but had long 
vanished (together with most of the rest of Tunstall's birds) by 1977 when I looked for it. To bring 
this insectivorous bird alive to England at the time was a remarkable feat — it was the first Mauritian 
passerine to reach Europe. 


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(ed.). Studies of Mascarene island birds. Cambridge Univ. Press. 
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birds. Cambridge Univ. Press. 
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Society of Arts & Sciences of Mauritius NS 18: 190-205 [see also pp. 16-17, 33-36, reports of 

Diamond, A. W. (ed.). 1987. Studies of Mascarene island birds. Cambridge Univ. Press. 
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Institute, Port Louis, Mauritius. 
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Museum. The Museum, Newcastle. 
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status. Proc. Royal Society of Arts & Sciences of Mauritius 6: 37-48. 
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[ngrams, W. H. et id. 1929. Report of the Museum Reorganisation Committee. Mauritius Institute, Port 

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Ly-Tio-Fane. M. (ed.) Societe d'Histoire Naturelle de Vile Maurice. Rapports Annuels 1830-1834. 

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et des Sciences de Vile Maurice 1829-1979. Royal Society of Arts & Sciences of Mauritius, Port 

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MacGregor, A. (ed.). 1983. Tradescant's rarities. Essays on the foundation of the Ashmolean Museum 

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Michel, L. 1935. Conference sur Charles Telfair. Trans. Royal Society of Arts & Sciences of Mauritius C 

Montaggioni, L. & Nativel, P. 1988. La Reunion / lie Maurice. Geologie etapercus biologiques. Masson, 

Mouat. F. J. 1852. Rough notes of a trip to Reunion, Mauritius and Ceylon. Thacker, Sprink & Co, 

Calcutta, [reprinted 1997, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services] 
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Pike, N. 1973. Subtropical rambles in the land of Aphanapteryx. Personal experiences, adventures & 

wanderings in and around the island of Mauritius. Sampson Low, Martston, Low & Searle, London. 
Quammen, D. 1996. Song of the Dodo. Random House (Hutchinson), London. 
Rountree, F. R. G. et al. 1952. Catalogue of the birds of Mauritius. Bull. Mauritius Inst. 3: 155-217. 
RSAS. 1878. Report to his excellency ... Sir Arthur Phayre, Governor in the island ... of Mauritius ... [on 

proposal for a new building to house the museum], 14 May 1878. Publ. as Annexe F, Trans. Royal 

Society of Arts and Sciences of Mauritius NS 12:81-87 (1883). 
RSAS. 1983. Proces-verbaux des seances. Proc. Royal Society of Arts & Sciences of Mauritius 4(4): 

Strahm, W. 1996. Mascarene Islands - an introduction. Curtis's Bot. Mag. 13:182-185. 
Staub, F. 1993. Fauna of Mauritius and associated flora. Published by the author, Port Louis, Mauritius. 
Strickland, H. E. & Melville, A. G. The dodo and its kindred. Reeve, Benham & Reeve, London. 
Tirvengadum, D. D. 1 980. Le Mauritius Institute - une institution centenaire au service de la communaute. 

Bull. Mauritius Inst. 9: i-xv, 111+ plates. 
Toussaint, A. 1972. Histoire des lies Mascareignes. Berger-Levrault, Paris. 
Vaughan, R. E. 1969. The Mauritius Herbarium. Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute Ann. 

Rep.1969: 157-165. 
Vinson, J. & Vinson. J. M. 1969. The saurian fauna of the Mascarene islands. Bull. Mauritius Inst. 6: 

Wheeler, A. 1 997. Zoological collections in the early British Museum: the Zoological Society's museum. 

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Address: A. S. Cheke, 139 Hurst Street, Oxford OX4 1HE, UK. 
<D British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

Adolf o G. Navarro S. et al. 207 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Museums working together: 
the atlas of the birds of Mexico 

by Adolf o G. Navarro S.,A. Townsend Peterson & 
Alejandro Gordillo-Martinez 


The present contribution is a case study of the application of data from world scientific 
collections to understanding the distribution, systematics and conservation of Mexican 
birds. Information was gathered on specimens from Mexico housed in 58 scientific 
collections in Mexico, the United States, Canada and Europe. This information was 
compiled in a centralised data base, and GIS programs used to visualise general geographic 
patterns and address historical patterns of ornithological investigations. We used the 
'Genetic Algorithm for Rule-set Prediction' to predict current and potential distributional 
areas of species, patterns of species richness, endemism and seasonality, and conservation 
applications. The avifaunal inventory of Mexico is impressively thorough, but many areas 
are poorly represented in collections. Now, however, quantitative approaches to inferring 
into undersampled areas are available and offer many new insights into the biogeography 
of the region. These results suggest the possibility of developing new research products 
based on point-occurrence data from natural history museum collections. 


La presente contribucion representa un estudio de caso de la aplicacion de la informacion 
obtenida de colecciones ornitologicas de todo el mundo, para entender la distribucion, 
sistematica y conservacion de las aves de Mexico. Se recopilo informacion sobre ejemplares 
mexicanos alojados en 58 colecciones cientificas en Mexico, Estados Unidos, Canada y 
Europa. Esta informacion se conjunto en una base de datos centralizada, la cual fue 
georreferenciada y se realizaron diversos analisis en SIG para visualizar los patrones 
geograficos generates y patrones historicos de la investigacion ornitologica en Mexico. 
Se uso el algoritmo GARP que, basado en los puntos de ocurrencia, permite realizar 
modelos predictivos de la distribucion de las especies que involucran la construction y 
description de las areas de distribucion actuales y potenciales de las especies, asi como el 
estudio de los patrones de riqueza, endemismo, estacionalidad y aplicaciones en 
conservacion. El inventario de la avifauna mexicana esta muy avanzado, pero muchas 
zonas estan poco representadas en las colecciones. Estos resultados sugieren la posibilidad 
de desarrollar nuevas investigaciones basadas en los datos de puntos de ocurrencias alojados 
en ejemplares de las colecciones. 


Mexico holds an astonishing biological diversity, ranking among the so-called 
megadiversity countries (Mittermeier et al. 1997). This richness originates in the 
geographic location of the country between two major biogeographic regions, 
Nearctic and Neotropical, that intergrade broadly in the area. Perhaps more 
importantly, the complex topography — coastal plains, mountain ranges, high plateaus, 
and islands — and geological history of the region produce a wide array of ecological 
conditions and favour the development of isolated populations and the action of in 

Adotfo G. Navarro S. et al. 208 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

situ evolutionary processes. Thus, a high proportion of the biota of the country is 
endemic (Ramamoorthy et al. 1993). 

In recent years, interest in surveying the biological resources of the country has 
increased greatly, with the goal of creating a national strategy to preserve biodiversity. 
Inventories and analyses of geographic, ecological, taxonomic and genetic diversity 
are key issues towards this goal (Soberon et al. 1996). Birds form important 
components of ecosystems, and are widely used as examples of what biodiversity 
studies could achieve because they are excellent ecological indicators and are well 
known taxonomically and distributionally. 

To achieve these goals, the enormous quantity of information scattered across 
the world in the scientific literature and scientific collections must be assembled. 
Our main goal was to create a database aggregating data from Mexican bird specimens 
worldwide, and to develop analyses that illustrate the potential increase in 
understanding of biogeography, systematics and conservation of the birds of Mexico. 
We see this effort as a prototype for even broader efforts, eventually encompassing 
the entire world and numerous taxa, developed by the entire community of systematic 
biologists and biodiversity scientists in a massive collaborative effort. 

The ornithological framework 

Mexico is favoured with great bird diversity. Avian species richness, under the 
biological species concept, is estimated at 1,074, 107 of which are endemic to the 
country (Escalante et al. 1993, AOU 1998). Recent taxonomic revision, however, 
using alternative species concepts, has raised the number to 1,250 species, 229 of 
which are endemic (Peterson & Navarro 1999). Some of the endemic forms belong 
to 10 endemic genera (Philortyx, Rhynchopsitta, Deltarhynchus, Rhodothraupis, 
Ridgwayia, Mimodes, Euptilotis, Hylorchilus, Calothorax and Xenospiza), as well 
as genera recognised by some taxonomists, such as Neochloe, Aechmolophus and 
Amaurospizopsis (Friedmann et al. 1950, Miller et al. 1957). This richness is 
distributed in the country in very interesting patterns (Peterson etal. 1992, Escalante 
et al. 1993, Peterson et al. 1998): whereas highest species richness is concentrated 
in tropical regions in the south-east, endemism is highest in the islands, south-western 
tropical dry lowlands, and the mountains (Peterson & Navarro 1999). 

Several species, both endemic and non-endemic, are considered globally 
threatened (BirdLife International 2000). Such taxa are often highly restricted 
geographically (e.g. Short-crested Coquette Lophornis brachylopha), inhabit highly 
endangered habitats (e.g. Horned Guan Oreophasis derbianus), or are threatened by 
hunting or illegal trade (e.g. Military Macaw Ara militaris). Six Mexican bird species 
are considered globally Endangered (Socorro Mockingbird Mimodes graysoni, 
Bearded Wood-partridge Dendrortyx barbatus, Short-crested Coquette Lophornis 
brachylopha, Guadalupe Junco Junco insularis, Black-capped Vireo Vireo atricapillus 
and Dwarf Jay Cyanolyca nana: BirdLife International 2000). An additional 13 
species are listed as Vulnerable (e.g. Socorro Parakeet A ratinga brevipes, Maroon- 
fronted Parrot Rhynchopsitta terrisi, Nava's Wren Hylorchilus navai: BirdLife 

Adolf o G. Navarro S. et al. 209 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

International 2000). To date, extinctions include the Slender-billed Grackle Quiscalus 
palustris (Dickerman 1965), Guadalupe Caracara Caracara lutosus (Greenway 1967, 
Inigo-Elfas 2000a), and San Benito House Finch Carpodacus 'mexicanus' mcgregori 
(Jehl 1971). The Guadalupe Storm-petrel Oceanodroma macrodactyla and Imperial 
Woodpecker Campephilus imperialis are considered Critically Endangered (BirdLife 
International 2000) but are almost certainly extinct (Ceballos & Marquez 2000); 
and the Socorro Dove Zenaida graysoni is extinct in the wild. The Red-throated 
Caracara Ibycter americanus (Ifiigo-Elias 2000b) and California Condor Gymnogyps 
calif ornianus (Koford 1953) have been extirpated in Mexico (Ceballos & Marquez 
2000, Rios-Munoz in press). 

How do we know all this? 

All of this information, constituting a basic resource for innumerable applications 
to wildlife conservation, is scattered across a multitude of sources (Peterson et al. 
1998). Moreover, it is often unavailable to researchers, especially those in developing 
countries. Scientists and conservationists require information, including geographic 
locations of species' occurrences, ecological characteristics and conservation status, 
in order to develop research. The scientific literature is an important source, although 
biased by the fact that most formal publications on Mexican birds have appeared in 
foreign journals and in non-native languages, especially English, French and German 
(Rodriguez- Yanez et al. 1994). A second and more widely distributed resource is 
that of field guides; these, however, are also generally in English and only provide 
generalities of the geographic range and ecology of species. Third, observations by 
birdwatchers and ornithologists would provide a rich resource, but are seldom 
published, organised, or made available in a useful fashion. 

The most important sources of information regarding biodiversity are scientific 
collections (Peterson et al. 1998). The specimens that have accumulated through 
decades in many institutions worldwide constitute a critical baseline dataset for 
biodiversity studies. Indeed, the role of museums as caretakers and disseminators of 
this information, too often overlooked or underestimated recently, is gaining 
importance for several reasons. One is that the specimen record was obtained across 
diverse ecological and historical conditions, providing a rich record of past and 
present biodiversity phenomena. These specimens hold information relevant to 
identification, geographic location and historical distribution that can be verified by 
subsequent researchers. This basic reference and historical material for studies in 
avian systematics, ecology, evolution, genetics, biogeography, biodiversity, and 
conservation research and planning, thus have an enormous potential for diverse 

A bit of history 

The history of ornithological investigations in Mexico was reviewed by Navarro 
(1989) and Escalante et al. (1993), and is summarised briefly here. Knowledge of 
the Mexican avifauna started with the indigenous cultures that inhabited the country. 

Adolfo G. Navarro S. et al. 210 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

At the time of the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, most of the diversity of 
Mexican birds had been discovered by the people of different regions in Mexico, 
because birds played important roles in their daily activities, foods and religion. 
Monks and scientists from Spain, such as Fray Bernardino de Sahagun and Francisco 
Hernandez, compiled indigenous knowledge on Mexico's natural resources (Alvarez 
del Tom 1985). 

Further expeditions were made by the Spanish in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries, and by French, German, British and Italian naturalists in the nineteenth 
century. On these trips, specimens were accumulated (as were field notes and paintings) 
that are now housed in Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Bremen, Cambridge, Turin, Madrid and 
elsewhere. The end of the nineteenth century saw the beginning of intensive exploration 
of Mexican biodiversity, particularly by English and U.S. scientists. Osbert Salvin and 
Frederic DuCane Godman coordinated the Biologia Centrali- Americana, a multi- 
volume description of Central American flora and fauna, of which four volumes were 
dedicated to birds (Salvin & Godman 1879-1904). The collections amassed were the 
product of field work by themselves and by many collectors that they hired in the 
region, as well as by purchases of collections. Most of these specimens are now housed 
at the Natural History Museum in the United Kingdom. 

Edward Nelson and Edward Goldman, from the United States National Museum 
in Washington, D.C., explored Mexico's natural resources as part of the United States 
Biological Survey. Thousands of bird specimens were accumulated, and updated 
information on ecology and biogeography of the species and communities was 
assembled (Goldman 1951). Their work sparked intense interest in the Mexican 
avifauna in the first half of the twentieth century. In this period, several professional 
collectors (e.g. Chester Lamb, Wilmot W. Brown, Mario del Toro Aviles) and 
researchers from many institutions in the United States and Canada visited different 
regions within the country and made important collections. The most important 
collections are those at the Moore Laboratory of Zoology, American Museum of 
Natural History, Field Museum of Natural History, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 
Museum of Comparative Zoology, University of Michigan and Louisiana State 

More recently, several Mexican or Mexico-based researchers, particularly at the 
National Autonomous University (UNAM), further improved the knowledge of 
Mexican birds (e.g. Allan R. Phillips, Rafael Martin del Campo). Today, a young 
and active ornithological community is developing at many institutions, adding to 
the ecological, systematic and geographical knowledge of Mexican birds. Centres 
of ornithological research with important collections are located in Mexico City 
(UNAM and Instituto Politecnico Nacional), Monterrey (Universidad de Nuevo 
Leon), Morelia (Universidad Michoacana), and Chetumal and Tuxtla Gutierrez 
(ECOSUR and Instituto de Historia Natural), among others. Given this history, the 
scattered and locally unavailable nature of information about Mexican birds is very 
clear; yet the need for such information is enormous, as many conservation-related 
initiatives are taking place in Mexico as part of regional and international efforts, as 
well as for basic research. 

Adolf o G. Navarro S. et al. 211 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


Data were obtained from 58 scientific collections in Mexico, United States, Canada 
and Europe (Table 1) with the generous assistance of curators at each institution, 
often by direct visits; of these datasets, information from 40 has been cleaned, 
standardised and incorporated into a single data resource (Fig. 1). Data were obtained 
in different forms, depending on the collection. We were able to obtain electronic 
copies of the holdings of 21 collection databases that were already computerised in 
various formats (Dbase, Excel, ACCESS or ASCII files). In very large and 
uncomputerised collections, we consulted the original collection catalogues and 
checked data against the actual specimens. A few collections were surveyed through 
the scientific literature, especially those for which catalogues of extinct, type or all 
specimens had been published. Most commonly, however, we captured data directly 
from the specimens, allowing checks of identification, locality, sex and age of the 
specimens. This capture and updating of data is an ongoing job, and several Mexican 
(e.g. ECOSUR) and foreign collections (e.g. Russian Academy of Sciences) are 
waiting to be included in the main database. 

Records from scientific literature were obtained from an exhaustive survey of 
some 4,000 references on Mexican birds produced between 1825 and 1999 
(Rodriguez- Yanez et al. 1994). Specific occurrence records were drawn from 312 
recent references (1986-1999) that updated the distributional information on many 
species, especially in poorly known areas (e.g. islands in the Gulf of California), 
and performed by observers that we deemed experts (e.g. E. Mellink, H. Gomez de 
Silva). This literature survey accounted for 8,900 individual georeferenced records 
(3.4% of the total records used for this contribution). A relational database was 
constructed that contained basic fields available from most specimens and 
bibliographic records (Fig. 2). For each record, taxonomy was updated to a recent 
version of the biological species concept (AOU 1998), as well as to a new treatment 
based on the phylogenetic/evolutionary species concepts (Peterson & Navarro 1998). 


Summary of 58 natural history museums contributing Mexican bird specimen records to the database 

described in this paper. Note that numbers reported represent the number of records in the Atlas 

database, and do not necessarily represent the total of specimens in the institution. Museums included 

in the analyses presented in this paper are indicated with asterisks (*) and n/a indicates information 

not available yet. 

Institution country 

Moore Laboratory of Zoology, Occidental College* USA 

Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University* USA 
Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Mexico 

Natural History Museum, Tring* UK 

Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science* USA 

Delaware Museum of Natural History* USA 

American Museum of Natural History* USA 

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology USA 



















Adolfo G. Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology* 

Field Museum of Natural History* 

Bell Museum of Natural History. University of Minnesota * 

Museo de Zoologfa. Faeultad de Cieneias, UN AM* 

Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California* 

University o\' Kansas Museum of Natural History* 

United States National Museum of Natural History* 

Universidad Michoacana San Nicolas de Hidalgo * 

Carnegie Museum of Natural History * 

California Academy of Sciences 

San Diego Natural History Museum* 

University of California, Los Angeles* 

Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology 

Canadian Museum of Nature * 

Peabody Museum. Yale University* 

Museum Nationale d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris* 

Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History* 

Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas * 

Florida Museum of Natural History 

Royal Ontario Museum* 

Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia* 

University of British Columbia Museum of Zoology* 

University of Arizona* 

Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collections * 

Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Frankfurt 

Museum ftir Naturkunde, Berlin 

Museo de la Biodiversidad Maya, Campeche 

Ubersee-Museum, Bremen 

Denver Museum of Natural History* 

Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino 

Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle 

Staatliches Museum fur Naturkunde, Sttutgart 

Museo Nacional de Cieneias Naturales, Madrid 

Natuurhistorische Museum, Leiden* 

Museum Nationale d'Histoire Naturelle, Geneve 

Museum Koenig, Bonn 

Museo La Specola, Universita di Firenze 

Zoologische Staatssammlung, Munich 

Museo di Storia Naturale, Genova 

Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg 

University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge 

Fort Hays State College, Kansas* 

Manchester Museum, Manchester 

Nebraska State Museum* 

Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Milano 

Iowa State University, Ames* 

Moscow State University Museum 

Darwin Museum. Moscow 

Museo Federico Craveri. Bra 








































































































I n/a 












































Adolfo G. Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 





Figure 1. Sources and information flux in the Atlas database: raw data input is shown at the bottom, and 
updated and edit ascending in the middle; the resulting clean database and applications are shown at the 


















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Adolfo G. Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 






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Figure 3. Geographical distribution of specimen data from selected scientific collections, (a) Museum 
Rationale d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris; (b) American Museum of Natural History, New York; (c) Natural 
History Museum, Tring; (d) Moore Laboratory of Zoology, California; (e) Museo de Zoologia, Facultad 
de Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico; (f) Universidad Michoacana, Morelia, Mexico; (g) sum of locality data 
Irom 40 institutions in the Atlas database. 

Adolfo G. Navarro S. et al. 215 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Once records were captured, an extract of unique localities was performed to 
obtain a gazetteer or geographic authority file. This file included all unique 
combinations of state, locality and elevation. Latitude and longitude data (as decimal 
degrees) for each unique locality were obtained using 1 :250,000 maps of the country 
(INEGI 1988). Correct locations of localities for which multiple sites had the same 
name in a state were determined with the help of published gazetteers (e.g. Paynter 
1955) or original field notes. Of an initial total of more thyan 36,600 unique localities, 
94% were successfully georeferenced. 

Once the database was constructed, 248,000 of 250,000 records were selected. 
Those for which (1) identification and locality was not doubtful from 40 museums 
and (2) data had already been incorporated into the centralised database were used 
to develop the analyses that follow. To visualise general geographic patterns we 
used Arc View (ESRI 1999). Digital cartography was made available by the Comision 
Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO). Analyses 
involving predictive distributional areas were performed using the Genetic Algorithm 
for Rule-set Prediction (GARP: Peterson et al. 2003, this volume). 


Representativeness of collections 

How well represented are the birds of Mexico in each scientific collection? 
Biodiversity analyses require abundant information that is rarely available from a 
single data source. Particular collections specialise on a particular state (e.g. 
Universidad Michoacana), or have broader coverage (e.g. Moore Collection, Fig. 
3), and indeed no single collection contains sufficient geographic or taxonomic 
representation to develop a full analysis (Peterson et al. 1998). However, 
accumulation of localities across the 40 data sets included in our studies leaves few 
major areas unsampled, providing much more complete ornithological information. 
Now, with increasing quantity and availability of observational information, visual 
records can complement the specimen record to provide further detail (Fig. 4). 

Although this analysis may suggest that the avifaunal inventory of Mexico is 
satisfactorily complete, we plotted localities for which more than 100 specimens 
(an arbitrary measure) are available (Fig. 5). The resulting pattern is interesting 
because the gaps are much wider, and many areas of Mexico are clearly still poorly 
represented in collections. The database also provides a valuable resource for guiding 
systematic studies. For example, specimens of the different forms of Common Bush- 
tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus (Sanchez-Gonzalez 1999) are scattered widely 
among institutions (Fig. 6). Using an information resource such as the one we have 
developed, a researcher may easily detect key specimens for a particular study, thereby 
maximising efficiency. 

Distributional patterns 

Georeferenced specimen occurrence data can easily be retrieved into geographic 
information systems applications, permitting association of biological data with 

Adolfo G. Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Fig. 4. Comparison of different sources of locality data, for a suite of aquatic birds (Procellariiformes, 
Gaviiformes and Pelecaniformes). Circles indicate specimen records, whereas triangles indicate visual 
records from selected literature sources. 

Figure 5. Localities from which more than 100 specimens have been collected, with different sizes of 
circles indicating increasing numbers of specimens (100 to 4,800). 

Adolfo G. Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

geographic and ecological information available in digital formats. This analytical 
format offers a series of opportunities for understanding basic distributional 
phenomena, particularly with regard to predicting geographic distributions. For 
example, correlating known occurrence points of species with ecoregions (CONABIO 
1999) provides a first idea of potential geographic distributional areas (Fig. 7). 

More complex methodologies for estimating distributional areas from occurrence 
data vary widely (Udvardy 1969), both in approach and in results. Fig. 8 illustrates 
the application of two different methods to the same dataset for two species (Garcia- 
Trejo et al. 1999). Most methods (e.g. Fig. 8b) depend overmuch on dense point 
coverage of known distributions for reconstructing areas. Given the paucity of records 
available for most species (Peterson et al. 1998), alternative methods that allow 
predictions of distributions based on incomplete knowledge are needed. 

A powerful tool for extrapolating potential distributional areas from primary 
point occurrences has been developed by D. R. B. Stockwell (Stockwell & Noble 
1992, Stockwell & Peters 1999), and is called the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-set 
Prediction (GARP). GARP uses an artificial intelligence approach (the genetic 
algorithm) to produce an abstraction of the ecological niche of a species, based on 

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Figure 6. Localities of Common Bush Tanagers Chlorospingus ophthalmicus in Mexico. Labels indicate 
scientific collections in which selected specimens are housed. LSUMZ, Louisiana State University; 
DMNH, Delaware Museum; MZFC, Museo de Zoologia, Facultad de Ciencias UNAM; USNM, United 
States National Museum. Shading represents the predicted distribution of the species modeled in GARP. 

AJolf'o G. Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 7. (a) Point locality data (black stars) for the endemic Bearded Wood Partridge Dendrortyx barbatus 
in Mexico, superimposed on a map of terrestrial ecoregions (CONABIO 1999). Areas highlighted are 
those holding cloud forest or humid pine-oak forest, (b) Map showing the Ecoregions (grey) (CONABIO 
1999) in which the Stripe-headed Sparrow Arremonops rufivirgatus occurs according to distributional 
point data (white circles). 

Adolf o G. Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Figure 8. Models of the geographic distribution of an endemic Mexican species, the Stripe-headed Brush- 
finch Buarremon virenticeps: (a) primary point data drawn from the Atlas database; (b) removal of test 
points from the state of Jalisco; (c) GARP prediction of distributional area (predictive model built with 
data from Jalisco removed); and (d) close-up of state of Jalisco, showing correspondence between 
prediction and test dataset (stars). 

physical and ecological attributes available in digital formats. An example is provided 
in Fig. 9, in which known occurrences of a species endemic to Mexico {Buarremon 
virenticeps) are used to predict its geographic distribution. Extensive testing of the 
predictive accuracy of models developed using this approach have amply 
demonstrated its utility (Peterson & Cohoon 1999, Peterson et al. 1999, 2002a,b, 
Peterson 2001, Peterson & Vieglais 2001, Anderson et al. 2002a,b, in press, Feria & 
Peterson 2002, Stockwell & Peterson 2002a,b). 

Species richness, endemism and conservation 

There are many potential applications of this information resource and technology 
to the conservation of biodiversity. For single-species prioritisations, Fig. 10 provides 
an illustration of the geographic situation of the Oaxaca Sparrow Aimophila 

AJolfo G, Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


socon usee n sis 

Figure 9. Use of primary data points for construction and evaluation of distributional areas: (a) data 
points for Thicket Tinamou Crypturellus cinnamomeus, sensu AOU 1998) from the Atlas dataset; (b) 
distribution based on ecoregions highlighted by point data; (c) buffer zones ( 10 km intervals) for estimating 
continuity of areas; (d, e) GARP predictions for the two phylogenetic species (sensu Navarro & Peterson 
submitted), Western Tinamou C. occidentalis and the eastern populations (C. mexicanus); and (f) 
distributions of northern subspecies (Friedmann et al. 1950). 

notosticta, a species of conservation concern in Mexico. Indeed, modelling its 
geographic distribution only amplifies the concern for this species in Mexico, as the 
species proves to be left out of present conservation efforts entirely. 

Adolf o G. Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

The predictive approaches of GARP can be applied to more complex challenges, 
combining results for suites of species. For example, Fig. 11 illustrates an overlay 
of the distributional areas of quail species endemic to western Mexico. Here, peaks 
and valleys in richness of endemic species can be detected, and can be incorporated 
in conservation planning; use of complementarity algorithms permits the development 
of quantitative conservation strategies (Gordillo-Martinez 2000). 


The principal source of information on the systematics and distribution of the Mexican 
avifauna as a whole are Friedmann et al. (1950) and Miller et al. (1957). Although a 
recent publication (Howell & Webb 1995) updates the distributional overview, it is 
in an extended field-guide format and does not provide detailed geographic 
information for most species. The vast dataset assembled in our work, including 

Figure 10. Overlay of potential distributional areas of quail species in western Mexico. Different shades 
of grey indicate high (black) to low (light grey) concentration of species. Data from Gordillo-Martinez 

Adotfo G. Navarro S. et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


Figure 1 1 . Predicted distributional area (solid grey) of a range-restricted endemic species, the Oaxaca 
Sparrow Aimophila notosticta. Polygons represent Important Bird Areas (IB As) proposed for the region 
( Arizmendi & Marquez 2000). Note that only the Valle de Tehuacan Reserve is an area protected officially. 

specimens, bibliographic records and some field observational data, forms the basis 
for our Atlas of Mexican birds, currently in preparation in collaboration with 
specialists around the world. This publication is based on a modern taxonomic 
treatment of the whole avifauna, and presents detailed analyses of the distribution 
of each species, as well as summaries of general patterns of species diversity, 
endemism, conservation status, and correlations with environmental and geographic 
features of the country. This work will serve as a model of how the bases for national 
biological surveys can be built from existing information held in the world's natural 
history museums, and will illustrate the many and varied potential uses of the 

As one reviewer of this paper stated, 'the value of the kinds of work cited depends 
on the availability of the (raw) data ... Publication of an atlas is all very well, but 
hard copy data are only marginally more useful than no data at all'. We heartily 
agree with this point of view. However, electronic 'publication' of the atlas database 
is neither feasible nor particularly desirable. Problems with feasibility stem from 
issues of permission to 'serve' data on specimens from a source that is not at the 
institution owning the specimens — several curators are rightly concerned about the 
implications for their institutions' rights to 'ownership' of data. Moreover, serving 

Adolfo G. Navarro S. et al. 223 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

such a centralised dataset is not desirable: centralised datasets suffer serious problems 
with update — as collections databases are edited and corrected at the institutions 
where specimens are housed, the corrections are not passed on to the centralised 
data source. Hence, the best solution to the challenge of making these data — and 
biodiversity data in general — broadly available is not to serve centralised datasets. 
A much better solution is that of distributed access to diverse biodiversity datasets. 
Here, centralisation is only achieved in a virtual sense. Rather, datasets are served 
by each of the institutions that care for, curate and document the associated specimens, 
and integrated virtually via the Internet. This design has the great advantage of keeping 
the data at the institutions where the specimens are housed. Three prototype 
distributed biodiversity networks now serve avian data: The Species Analyst (http:/ 
/, REMIB (, and ENHSIN (http:// A common technology that should unite these 
three networks and others is now under development (the 'DIGIR' project). 
Anticipated is a broad proposal to integrate many additional data sources (the 
'ORNIS' [ORNithological Information System] Project!), which is in the process of 
preparation for submission to the U.S. National Science Foundation for funding. 


Thanks to Robert Prys-Jones and the British Ornithologists' Union for the invitation to AGNS and ATP 
to attend the meeting and workshop, and to the World Bank for financial support. Useful comments to 
the manuscript were obtained from Nigel Collar, Livia Leon, Octavio Rojas and an anonymous reviewer. 
We also thank the curators of the multiple institutions worldwide, listed in Table 1, that have supplied 
data, access to collections, friendship and invaluable logistic support. We are deeply grateful for the 
companionship and help of Claudia Abad, Rosa Salazar, Blanca Hernandez, Hesiquio Benitez, Elsa 
Figueroa, Octavio Rojas, Fernando Puebla, Erick Garcia-Trejo, Luis Antonio Sanchez and many 
colleagues and collaborators since 1994. Financial support for the construction of the Atlas, and the 
development of analyses, has been obtained from the Comision Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso 
de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO), National Science Foundation, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y 
Tecnologia (CONACyT), British Council (Mexico), Comission for Environmental Cooperation, and 
Direccion de Asuntos del Personal Academico (DGAPA-UNAM). 


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distributions. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. 
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Addresses: A. G. Navarro, Museo de Zoologia, Facultad de Ciencias,Universidad Nacional Autonoma de 
Mexico. Apartado Postal 70-399, Mexico D. F 04510, Mexico, e-mail:; 
A. T Peterson, Natural History Museum, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045, U.S.A.; A. 
Gordillo-Martinez, Museo de Zoologia, Facultad de Ciencias,Universidad Nacional Autonoma de 
Mexico. Apartado Postal 70-399, Mexico D. F 04510, Mexico 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

Martin Hromada et al. 226 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

The value of the bird collections and associated 

data in regional museums: Lanius excubitor 

specimens in Sarisske Museum, 

Bardejov, Slovakia 

by Martin Hromada, Lechofaw Kuczyriski, 
Maciej Skoracki, Marcin Antczak & Piotr Tryjanowski 

Dedicated to the memory ofPhMr. TiborWeisz 


Current ornithology, when working on long-term studies of the ecology and conservation 
of bird species, faces the problem of how to obtain relevant data. This challenge is 
particularly acute in the case of rare or uncommon species. The importance of museum 
collections of all sizes, and aspects of the use of collections for such studies, are the 
subject of this paper. The Department of Natural History, Sarisske Museum, Bardejov, 
Slovakia, holds the most extensive collection of Great Grey Shrikes in the world, totalling 
665 skin and mount specimens, 600 sterna complexes, 207 ectoparasite samples, 7 
endoparasite samples, 132 stomach contents and 9 clutches from north-eastern Slovakia, 
taken in the period 1956-1983. 


The Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor, which has about a quarter of its entire 
breeding range in Europe, has shown population declines over almost all its European 
range in recent decades; this trend apparently results from habitat loss through 
agricultural intensification (Tucker & Heath 1994), and low population densities 
typify this species in most of Europe (Tryjanowski et al. 1999). Obtaining data on 
long-term trends in the species' population ecology is therefore increasingly 
problematic. Consequently, most research on the species (e.g. taxonomy, morphology, 
moult sequences, ecological problems, parasitology) has been based on relatively 
small sample sizes. Larger datasets are nevertheless available, and occasionally used, 
for such studies: taxonomy and morphology (Eck 1973, 1990a,b, 1994), ecology 
and behaviour (Schon 1 994a,b), and foraging and nesting biology (Lorek et al. 2000). 
One solution to the current situation of scarcity of relevant field data is the use of 
museum collections, where much relevant information awaits a number of novel 
applications, in spite of the fact that the use of museum collections as an information 
source is rather uncommon (Remsen 1995). Traditional bird collections generally 
include study skins, spirit specimens, skeletons, nests, clutches of eggs, frozen tissues, 
parasites and stomach contents (Mearns & Mearns 1998). Data on locality, date, 
collector and measurements are generally associated with specimens, although more 
detailed information, including circumstances of collection, habitat, behaviour, 
additional measurements, and condition of the bird, are less commonly included on 

Martin Hromada et al. 227 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

labels. The importance of maximising information content related to specimens was 
recently emphasised in the metadata concept in ecology and biology (Michener 1994). 
Most museum-based studies have been carried out in large, well-known 
collections (Peterson et al. 1998). Owing to exigencies of time and resources, most 
researchers focus studies in larger collections rather than regional museums; but we 
submit that the latter also often hold useful high-quality data. The aim of this paper 
is to outline uses of series of Great Grey Shrikes in the Sarisske Museum, Bardejov 
(SMB), Slovakia, which holds what we believe to be the world's largest sample of 
this species. 

Materials and methods 

Study area 

An important feature of the SMB collection is its orientation toward significant 
series from a single geographic area. From 1957 to 1983, Great Grey Shrikes were 
collected in north-eastern Slovakia (49°03'^9°27'N, 20°30 -21°47'E) in the eastern 
and western Carpathians, in the European temperate zone. This region, centered 
around Bardejov, is hilly, with elevations from 170 m in the lowest river basins to 
1,157 m at the peaks of the Eergov Mountains. 

Owing to its climatic and landscape features, this region mixes Mediterranean 
(e.g. Bee-eater Merops orientalis) and boreal faunistic elements (e.g. Tengmalm's 
OwlAegoliusfunereus, Pygmy Owl Glaucidiumpasserinum). Broad valleys running 
approximately north-south provide corridors for fauna and flora from the warm 
open plains of the Carpathian Basin and Great Pannonian Lowland. The region is 
intensively farmed but presents a mosaic of agricultural fields in lower parts, forests 
along creeks and rivers, and continuous forests on hilltops and mountainsides. 


PhMr. Tibor Weisz (1928-1983), pharmacist, zoologist and phenomenal collector, 
dealt with many animal groups, as is seen in the diversity of his specimen material. 
He collected for the Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest (specimens 
destroyed), and the Museum of the University of Forestry and Wood Industry, Kosice, 
Slovakia. He was founder of two natural history museums, in Presov and Bardejov, 
both in Slovakia. The natural history collection at Bardejov alone holds about 700,000 
specimens, including nearly 6,000 skins of almost 700 bird species, more than 3,500 
sterna, approximately 800 clutches of eggs, etc.; Weisz's principal interests were 
with birds. 

Documentation of birds in SMB 

The main distinguishing feature of the SMB museum, established in 1956, lies in 
the way the collections were documented. The data associated with most specimens 
include much more in the way of measurements and notes than in other museums, 
including information on length of both wings, condition (general health), size of 

Martin Hromada et al. 228 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

gonads, relationships with other individuals (parent, nestling, sibling), and other 
associated voucher material (sternum, stomach content, ecto- and endoparasites, 
clutches, nests). An important component of data in the collection consists of detailed 
notes on all activities of a collector during the day, notes on each collecting event, 
and often cross-reference between specimens. Weisz was a pioneer of modern 
ornithological and natural history methods in museum collections in Slovakia and 
the Czech Republic. However, maybe because he was the only naturalist in the 
museum for 20 years, and maybe because of his heavy preoccupation in fieldwork, 
a small part of his collections lack one or more basic items of information, such as 
locality, sex, etc. Moreover, the collector's personal diaries, which contain detailed 
descriptions of his daily activities, remain in the possession of his family, and are 
accessible only with their permission. 

Specimen collection 

Many local shooters under the direction of Tibor Weisz collected the SMB Great 
Grey Shrike series. All preparation steps were noted, and all specimens labelled 
with a unique numeric identifier. Field notes included information on each bird 
collected, frequently including habitat descriptions, behavioural observations, etc. 
The birds were collected through the entire year, during single day trips or longer 
expeditions, using cars or all-terrain vehicles to cover broader areas. The taxidermists 
were members of a field team, so preparation and data collection were done 
immediately, or shortly after obtaining the specimens. 

Specimen preparation and processing 

Specimens were prepared by means of traditional techniques for making study skins. 
Arsenic was used as a preserving medium. Skilled taxidermists J. Trencsenyi, V. 
Boruvka, and S. Trenean were the principal preparators of the SMB bird collection. 
All measurements were taken by T. Weisz on fresh birds, with body mass sometimes 
noted by taxidermists. Measurements taken on most or all specimens were body 
length, lengths of both wings (slightly flattened), lengths of longest and shortest 
rectrices, tarsus length (measured as the distance between the sole side of the opened 
foot, abutted on callipers at right angle and measured to the proximal point of the 
tarsometatarsus), bill length measured to the anterior edge of the nostril and to first 
feathering, and wing span. Sex was determined through dissection of gonads, and 
age was noted, as well as description of colouration, wing-bars and other features. 
Ectoparasites were collected by T. Weisz or the taxidermists from fresh birds by 
direct inspection, without using special methods such as fumigation. Parasites were 
preserved in 75% ethanol. Dissection out of endoparasites, when done, was 
undertaken directly in the field by J. K. Macko (Parasitological Institute, SAS, Kosice, 
Slovakia) and his co-workers. Material was preserved in fixative solutions specific 
to particular helminth groups (e.g. nematodes in Barbagal solution, cestodes in 
alcohol-formol-acetic acid). Stomach contents were collected and preserved in the 
ci Hirse of preparation, and stored in 70% ethanol, sometimes inside the actual stomach. 

Martin Hromada et al. 229 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Sterna were preserved during preparation, and cleared with hydrogen peroxide; 
complete sternal preparations include the sternum proper, furcula, coracoids and 

The collection database is built on information recorded at several levels. The 
collector's first step was to note data in a field notebook. All of the following 
information resources, such as cards and the database, are based on these notebooks. 

Basic evidence on specimen acquisition 

The Great Grey Shrike series was established in the course of other research and 
collecting activities of the Department of Natural History of SMB. Members of the 
collecting teams report no special preference for this species. We present the spatio- 
temporal origin of samples on a seasonal and year-to-year basis (Fig. 1, 2). Table 1 
outlines the data limitations on the specimen material relating to the sample in SMB. 

The collection shows two peaks, i.e. in the early sixties and in the early seventies. 
This gives an opportunity to stratify data into two groups and still have enough data 
for statistical treatment, when e.g. splitting the samples around 1970. 

Month of collection reveals seasonal variation in sampling. The peak in March 
doubtless reflects the period with the highest probability of seeing birds. November 
probably reflects the month in which the birds arrive in their winter territories. Both 
peaks correspond with times of migration. 

Features of the Great Grey Shrike series in the SMB collection 

N % 

Total number of specimens 665 100 

Number lacking date 41 6 

Number lacking locality information 57 9 

Number not aged 123 18 

Number not sexed 146 22 

Number with obvious measurement errors 16 2 

Number of ectoparasite samples 207 3 1 

Number of endoparasite samples 7 1 

Number of stomach contents sampled 132 20 

Number of sterna 600 90 

Number of egg clutches 9 100 

Number of clutches with known paternity 5 56 

Taxonomic status of birds in the collection 

The area sampled is situated at the southern edge of the continuous geographic 
breeding range of the Great Grey Shrike. All the birds in SMB are currently identified 
as Lanius excubitor excubitor, the nominate race (T Weisz in Hudec 1983, Eck 
1993, 1994), although several individuals appear to reflect characters of the south- 
eastern subspecies L. e. homeyeri; the question has yet to be examined in detail. 

Martin Hromada et al. 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 




E 50 



Q. 40 


O 30 


Z 20 

1957 1959 1961 1963 1965 1967 1969 1971 1973 1975 1977 1979 1981 1983 


Fig. 1 . Annual additions of Great Grey Shrikes to the SMB collection 



g 120 


E 100 

a so 

O 60 



6 7 


8 9 10 11 12 

Fig. 2. Specimens of Great Grey Shrikes in SMB, by month of collection 

Stomach contents 

The 1 32 stomach content samples contained 608 prey items belonging to 82 animals 
of 39 families and 17 orders (Hromada & Kristin 1996). Only small mammals, and 
to a lesser degree carabid beetles, were found in food relatively regularly throughout 
the year. Diversity of food items was highest in May and June, while evenness peaked 

Martin Hromada et al. 231 Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

in January and February. Hromada & Kristin (1996) discussed the occurrence of 
necrophagous animals and difficulties with small prey items, as well as 
methodological difficulties in estimating diets from stomach contents. 


At the time of collection, the birds were investigated for ectoparasites and a subset 
also for endoparasites. In current research one secondary was examined to estimate 
rates of infestation by syringophilid mites living in the feather quill, and a new 
species, Syringophiloidus weiszii, was identified (Skoracki etal. 2001). In total, 508 
Great Grey Shrikes were examined, of which 18 (3.54%) were infested by quill 
mites. This low rate is probably due to the solitary nature of the shrikes and thus low 
dispersal opportunities of these highly specific parasites (Skoracki et al. 2002). 

Time series 

The sample allows us to address temporal issues in two ways: (1) changes across the 
entire period (26 years), and (2) within-year seasonal changes. An extended time 
series helps avoid the biases that can plague shorter studies. Data can be integrated 
with new datasets obtained by non-invasive methods, e.g. from blood, feather and 
parasite sampling, etc. Temporally extended series can be used to evaluate the effects 
of increasing human population and environmental damage. Data from the collection 
enabled us to estimate a minimum density of Great Grey Shrikes in around Bardejov 
in the 1960s (Kristin & Hromada 2002): breeding density at that time was at least 
twice as high as it is at present. 


The role of regional museums is of growing importance at present. In spite of their 
smaller overall holdings, regional museums often have the advantage of local 
expertise, ability to respond quickly to local issues and collect significant conservation 
data. Because collecting localities are often nearby, and staff are usually experts 
regionally, a main focus is often on local community composition and conservation 
issues (Davies 1995, 1996). Thus, regional museums should play a crucial role in 
the long-term collecting related to questions of regional conservation, natural history, 
species composition, and community change. This focus of local expertise can offer 
great advantages, particularly when work is developed in connection with major 
museum collections that can provide expensive analytical capabilities and broader 
contextual information for local faunas and floras. 

The long-term maintenance of systematic collections, including smaller ones, 
serves the important task of documenting the biodiversity of the earth (Backeljau et 
al. 1995, Goethem er a/. 1995, Shaffer etal. 1998). Use of this information resource 
for studying diverse aspects of ecology, environmental biology and conservation is 
relatively uncommon, in spite of the great potential that we have attempted to illustrate 

Martin Hromada et al. 232 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

in this paper. Local and regional collections are, however, more vulnerable to loss, 
given shifts in availability of economic resources and political upheavals. 

The best way to realise the potential of these information resources is via co- 
operation. Indeed, a recent commentary stated: 'We find a picture of what the new 
natural history museum world should look like: it will be collaborative....' (Apt et 
al. 1997). Networking and participating in internet-based data-sharing projects are 
one avenue to pursue in this regard (Peterson et al. 1998). 

The collections of SMB, despite the good use made of the Great Grey Shrike 
material, are still relatively under-utilised. The principal problem is probably that 
SMB has not yet issued its catalogue, so the collection remains relatively unknown. 
Nevertheless, the preliminary results of our analysis of the extensive SMB Great 
Grey Shrike series indicate exciting opportunities for more advanced studies, e.g. 
ptilochronology, dynamics of infestation by parasites through season and time periods, 
effect of population dynamics on evolution and genetics, physiological trade-offs, 

These examples illustrate the importance of broad-spectrum preservation of 
information content by collectors. Almost none of the methods we are presently 
using had been developed in the 1950s, when the SMB series was begun. Generally, 
most information available can be used in the future in ways not currently appreciated. 
Although the usual pressures exist for efficiency in work effort, it is impossible to 
predict what may be useful in future studies (see, e.g., Remsen 1995). Today we are 
reaping the rewards of the work of our predecessors, the collectors from decades or 
more in the past, and we have to attempt to be equally shrewd and responsible with 
respect to those that come after us. 


We thank the Head of the Natural History Department of SMB, Tomas Jazsay, for his general help. Dana 
Tulenkova prepared the computer database, Jan Kleban helped with working material up, and Dries van 
Nieuwenhuyse encouraged us to study this fascinating collection. A. Townsend Peterson, Ivica KraTova 
and Nigel Collar critically read first versions of the manuscript and made corrections of our English. 
Visits by M. Antczak, L. Kuczynski, M. Skoracki, and P. Tryjanowski to SMB were supported by a 
special grant from the Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University. 


Apt, J.. Brown, E. H., Crane, P., Fri, R. W., Futter, E. V., Goldstein, K. L. & Hager, M. W. 1997. Toward 

a natural history museum for the 21st Century. Museum News (American Association of Museums) 

76 (Nov/Dec): 38. 
Backeljau. T., van Goethem, J. & Wouters, K. 1 995. New trends in systematics and taxonomy. Nouvelles 

de la Sciences et des Technologies 13: 201-204. 
Davis, P. 1995. Can small museums play a part in conserving biodiversity? NatHis. Newsletter (ICOM) 

Davis, P. 1996. Small is still beautiful: provincial museum and biodiversity. Abstracts of Annual Meeting 

of the Mat Hist International Committee, ICOM, 'Saltillo 96': 5. 
Eck. S. 1973. Intraspezifische Ausformungen im Fliigel- und Schwanzbau bei Wtirger-Formenkreisen 

der Gattung Lanius. Zool. Abh. Mus. Tierk. Dresden 32: 75-1 19. 
Eck, S. 1990a. Uber MaBe mitteleuropaischer Sperlingsvogel (Aves: Passeriformes). Zool. Abh. Mus. 

Tierk. Dresden 46: 1-55. 

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Eck, S. 1990b. Die systematische Stellung von Lanius excubitor meridionalis Temminck, 1820 (Aves, 

Passeriformes: Lanidae). Zool. Abh. Mus. Tierk. Dresden 46: 57-62. 
Eck, S. 1994. Uber die Formbildung bei den Raubwiirger-Arten (Lanius excubitor u.a.). Mitt. Ver. Sachs. 

Orn. 7: 265-277. 
van Goethem, J., Wouters, K. & Backeljau, T. 1995. The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural History 

Sciences and the role of natural history collections in biodiversity research. Nouvelles de la Sciences 

et des Technologies 13: 205-209. 
Hromada, M. & Kristin, A. 1996. Changes in the food of the great grey shrike (Lanius excubitor) during 

the year. Biologia, Bratislava 51: 227-233. 
Hudec, K. (ed.) (1983) Fauna ESSR. Ptdci, 3. Academia Praha, Prague. 
Kristin, A. & Hromada, M. 2002. Lanius excubitor. Pp. 567-569. In Danko, S., Darolova, A., Kristin, A. 

(eds.) Bird Distribution in Slovakia. VEDA, Bratislava. 
Lorek, G, Tryjanowski, P. & Lorek, J. 2000. Birds as prey of the Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor). 

Ring 22: 37-44. 
Mearns, B. & Mearns, R. 1998. The bird collectors. Academic Press, London. 
Michener, W. K., Brunt, J. W., & Stafford, S. G (eds.) 1994. Environmental information management 

and analysis: ecosystem to global scales. Taylor and Francis, London. 
Peterson, A. T, Navarro-Siguenza, A. G & Benitez-Diaz, H. 1998. The need for continued scientific 

collecting: a geographic analysis of Mexican bird specimens. Ibis 140: 288-294. 
Schon, M. 1994a. Kennzeichen des Raubwiirgers (Lanius e. excubitor) Lebensraumes im Gebiet der 

siidwestlichen Schwabischen Alb: Jahreszeitliche Nutzung und Revier-Grosse, Strukturmerkmale 

und Veranderungen, Kleinstrukturen und Bewirtschaftung. Okol. Vogel 16: 253-495. 
Schon, M. 1994b. Brutverhalten und Paarbindung des Raubwiirgers (Lanius e. excubitor): Paarbildung, 

Brutverlauf und Familien-Auflosung im Gebiet der Siidwestlichen Schwabischen Alb. Okol. Vogel 

Shaffer, H. B., Fisher, R. N. & Davidson, C. 1998. The role of natural history collections in documenting 

species declines. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 13: 27-30. 
Skoracki, M., Hromada, M. & Tryjanowski, P. 2001. Description of a new quill mite Syringophiloidus 

weiszi sp.n. (Acari, Prostigma, Syringophilidae) from great grey shrike Lanius excubitor. Acta 

Parasitologica 46: 30-34. 
Skoracki, M., Tryjanowski, P. & Hromada, M. 2002. Two new species of the genus Syringophilopsis 

Kethley, 1970 (Acari: Syringophilidae) parasitizing quills of true shrikes (Aves: Laniidae). Parasite 

9: 11-16. 
Remsen, J. V. 1995. The importance of continued collecting of bird specimens for ornithology and bird 

conservation. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 5: 145-180. 
Tryjanowski, P., Hromada, M. & Antczak, M. 1999. Breeding habitat selection in the Great Grey Shrike 

Lanius excubitor — the importance of meadows and spring crops. Acta Orn. 34: 59-63. 
Tucker, G M. & Heath, M. F 1994. Birds in Europe: their conservation status. BirdLife International, 

Cambridge, U.K. 

Addresses: Martin Hromada, Department of Natural History, Sarisske Museum, Radniene nam. 13, SK- 
085 01 Bardejov, Slovakia & Department of Zoology, University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 
31, CZ-370 05 Eeske Budijovice, Czech Republic, e-mail:; Lechoslaw 
Kuczyhski, Department of Animal Morphology, Institute of Environmental Biology, Adam 
Mickiewicz University, 28 Czerwca 198, PL-61-485 Poznari, Poland,; Maciej 
Skoracki, Department of Animal Morphology, Institute of Environmental Biology, Adam Mickiewicz 
University, 28 Czerwca 198, PL-61-485 Poznari, Poland,; Marcin Antczak, 
Department of Zoology, University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 3 1 , CZ-370 05 Eeske Budijovice, 
Czech Republic,; Piotr Tryjanowski, Department of Avian Biology & Ecology, 
Adam Mickiewicz University, Fredry 10, PL-61-701 Poznari, Poland, e-mail: 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

ZlatozarBbev 234 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Specimens of extinct and threatened birds in the 

collections of the National Museum of 

Natural History in Sofia, Bulgaria 

by Zlatozar Boev 


Over the last five decades a series of specimen catalogues of extinct and rare birds 
in museum collections has been published. For Europe, such papers were made 
available by the natural history museums in, e.g., Berlin (Stresemann 1954), Frankfurt 
am Main (Mertens & Steinbacher 1955), Paris (Jouanin 1962), Exeter (Howes 1969), 
Dresden (Eck 1970), Cambridge (Benson 1972), Moscow (Neufeldt 1978,Tomkovich 
& Barisheva 1987), Liverpool (Fisher 1981), Milan, Genoa and Florence (Violani et 
al. 1984), Saint Petersburg (Sokolov & Il'yashenko 1987), Tring (Knox & Walters 
1994), and Lviv (Tsaryk 2000). Surveys of this kind are useful to outline the 
whereabouts of rarities collected in the past throughout the world (Williams 1960). 
Here such a catalogue is presented for the National Museum of Natural History in 
Sofia (NMNHS) in Bulgaria. 

The NMNHS was founded in 1889 by King Ferdinand I of Bulgaria. Its bird 
collections were gradually built up by regular acquisition of local birds and zoo 
specimens. Also, some larger collections were obtained, notably those of Amede 
Alleon ( 1 838-1904) from south-east Europe (including c.900 mounted specimens), 
Emil Holub ( 1 847- 1 903) from South Africa (c. 300 mounted specimens), E. C. Stuart 
Baker (1864-1944) from India and South-east Asia (152 mounted specimens), and 
Pavel Patev (1889-1950) from Bulgaria (over 9,000 specimens, mostly preserved 
as study skins) (Boev 1991). The oldest bird in the collection is an adult male Channel- 
billed Toucan Ramphastos vitellinus shot in Brazil in 1 860. At present, the collection 
holds over 12,000 registered skins and mounts of birds, plus over 1,300 partial or 
complete avian skeletons (Boev 1993). Some pre- 1950 mounts are also present but 
are not yet catalogued. 

A catalogue of the bird collections of NMNHS was published over 90 years ago 
(Anon. 1907). At the time this was a complete inventory, but considerable changes 
have since occurred, largely owing to important acquisitions, but also because a part 
of the collection was lost to fire in March 1944. Recent overviews of the bird contents 
of NMNHS involved only parts of the collection, e.g. catalogues of all parrots 
Psittaciformes (Boev 1990) and of the Stuart Baker material (Boev 1997a). 

The present list provides data on the specimens of those species in NMNHS 
listed in BirdLife International (1999) and on Appendix I of the Convention on 
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (species listed on this appendix 
are not necessarily threatened in the formal sense, but are regarded as highly 
vulnerable to international trade and thus have the equivalence of a threatened species 
under international law). All specimens are prepared as mounted birds or study skins. 

ZlatozarBoev 235 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Material and methods 

Systematics, and categories of the conservation status and CITES listing, follow del 
Hoyo etal. (1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002), with updated conservation 
status based on BirdLife International (2000) (where species have been downlisted 
since the completion of this review in 1999, this is noted but the entry is retained). 
To facilitate comparison of species and the location of collecting site, modernised 
species names and locality names are used (rather than those attaching to the specimen 
itself), the latter according the most recent Times atlas or (when not in the latter) 
with an indication of the nearest larger city. Square brackets around place names 
indicate either (a) the former name of the locality as given on the original specimen 
label, or (b) a known origin (e.g. New Zealand) or a known local provenance (e.g. a 
zoo) of the specimen in the absence of other data, or (c) extra information that helps 
fix the given locality. 

Each entry begins with the catalogue number. Ad = Adult, Juv = Juvenile, Subad 
= Subadult. 'Sofia Zoo' is the Royal Zoological Gardens, Sofia. N = northern, S = 
southern, E = eastern, W = western, C = central. Coll. = collected by; don. = donated 

In cases where specimens were in sufficiently good condition, (usually) six 
standard measurements were taken: L = body length from the tip of the upper mandible 
to the tip of the longest tail feathers (uppertail-coverts in males of Pavo); A = wing 
length from the ulnar-carpometacarpal joint to the tip of the longest primary feather; 
C = tail length from the pygostyle (or pygostyle area) to the tip of the longest tail 
feathers; R = bill length (culmen length) from the middle of the front edge of the 
cere to the tip of the upper jaw, i.e. the bare horny part; T = tarsus length from the 
joint between the third toe and the tarsometatarsal bone to the tibiotarsal- 
tarsometatarsal joint, measured on the frontal surface; D = third toe length with the 
claw from the proximal joint of the first phalanx of the third toe to the tip of the 
claw. The measurements were taken in millimetres with calipers and a thin metric 

List of species 


Little Spotted Kiwi Apteryx owenii. Vulnerable. One: 

• 525 Ad [New Zealand]. L 505, A -, C -, R 64.8, T 49, D 50.6. 


Jackass Penguin Spheniscus demersus. Vulnerable. Three, all from zoos: 

• 1 95 Ad, bought alive on 29 May 1 936 in Hamburg, died in Sofia Zoo on 1 April 
1937. L 600, A 165, C 60, R 55.5, T 35, D 71. 

• 196 Subad female [Plovdiv Zoo]. 

• 223 Ad male, died in Sofia Zoo in May 1974. L 635, A 196, C 65, R 66.7, T 48, 
D 87.3. 

ZLuozarBoev 236 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus. Conservation Dependent. CITES I. Three: 

• 278 Ad, no further data. L 1 ,7 1 0, A 690, C 300, R 380, T 1 1 1 , D 128. 

• 279 Juv, 26 May 1 956, Srebarna Lake near Silistra (N Bulgaria), coll. M. Daneva. 

• 280 Ad female, 30 March 1904, Negovan Lake near Sofia (W Bulgaria). 


Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus. Insufficiently Known (now Near 
Threatened). Eight: 

• 2483 Ad, no further data. Bulgaria. 

• 2484 Unsexed, 14 October 1908, Vranya near Sofia (W Bulgaria). 

• 2485 Unsexed, 27 October 1896, Plovdiv (S-C Bulgaria). 

• 2486 Ad male, 4 May 1904, Iskiir River near Sofia (W Bulgaria). 

• 2487 Ad male, 6 December 1896, Yarem-Bourgas (near Istanbul, Turkey), coll. 
A. Alleon. L 540, A 220, C 148, R 3 1 .9, T 29.7, D 50.7. 

• 2488 Ad male, 5 September 1898, Iskiir River. 

• 2489 Ad male, 27 November 1892, Yarem-Bourgas, coll. A. Alleon. L 560, A 
208, C 165, R 28.7, T 36, D 57.5. 

• 5183 Subad, January 1995, Durankulak Lake (NE Bulgaria). L 570, A 210, C 
152, R 28.7, T 37, D 60. 


Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita. Critically Endangered. CITES I. Two, both 

from Sofia Zoo and probably originating from one of the Syrian colonies: 

• 2147 Ad male, died 16 July 1911. L 724, A 363, C 224, R 137.2, T 71.5, D 65.3. 

• 2148Adfemale,died30Augustl911.L705,A367,C173,R136.8,T68,D63.9. 


Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythwpus. Vulnerable. Two: 

• 106 Ad female, 22 March 1902, Negovan Marsh near Sofia (W Bulgaria), coll. 
L. Siklunov. L 530, A 373, C 123, R 29.6, T 53, D 58.3. 

• 4624 Ad male, 15 March 1932, Musachevo [near Sofia], coll. V. Damyanov. 

Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis. Vulnerable. Two: 

• 5238 Ad male, January 1 997, Durankulak Lake (NE Bulgaria), coll. P. Dimitrov. 
L 625, A 368, C 128, R 24.5, T 52, D 52.7. 

• 5170 Ad, December 1993, Durankulak Lake, coll. P. Dimitrov. 

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca. Vulnerable (in Collar et al. 1994), now Near 
Threatened. One: 

• 2680 Ad male, 1 January 1 896, Makrikoy ( 1 km WS W of C Istanbul, Turkey), 
coll. A. Alleon. L -, A 1 89, C 90, R 43.6, T 32. 1 , D 57.2. 

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala. Endangered. Thirteen: 

• 73 Juv, no further data. 

• 78, 79 & 27 1 7 Male, female, and male, 9 March 1 890, Burgas (E Bulgaria). 

ZlatozarBoev 237 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

80 Unsexed, 1893, Pazardzhik (S-C Bulgaria). 

2710 No data. 

2711 Ad female, March 1882, Constanta (E Romania), coll. A. Alleon. 

2712 & 2714 Females, 'Mediterranean', coll. A. Alleon. 

2713 & 2715 Juv and ad male, April 1883, Constanta, coll. A. Alleon. 
2716 Female, 'Mediterranean', coll. A. Alleon. L 427, A 60, C 82, R 41.7, T 
43.0, D 65. 

• 5154 15 January 1993, Poda near Burgas, coll. P. Dimitrov. 


Californian Condor Gymnogyps calif ornianus. Critically Endangered. CITES I. Two: 

• 687 Ad female, 10 June 1902, Arroyo Grande (California, USA), coll. Arthur 

• [without catalogue number] Ad male. L 1,260, A 818, C 465, R 39, T 129, D 145. 

Andean Condor Vultur gryphus. CITES I. One: 

• 688 Ad male. L 1,315, A 835, C 375, R 44, T 127, D 152. 


Cinereous (Black) Vulture Aegypius monachus. Vulnerable (now Near Threatened). 

• 699 Ad, no further data. L 1,122, A 825, C 389, R 62, T 135, D 108. 

• 700 Ad male, January 1893, Istanbul (Turkey), coll. A. Alleon. 

• 2940 Juv, May 1881, Dobrogea (E Romania), coll. A. Alleon. 

• 2946 Juv, December 1892, Istanbul, coll. A. Alleon. 

White-tailed Sea Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla. Vulnerable (now Near Threatened). 
CITES I. Eight: 

• 506 Ad female, 29 January 1 897, Demirci (20 km N of C Istanbul, Turkey), coll. 
A. Alleon. 

507 Juv female, Burgas, died in Sofia Zoo 2 February 1897. 

508 Ad male, died in Sofia Zoo 17 August 1893. L 820, A 520, C 250, R 51.8, T 
90, D 120. 

2920 Juv male, 7 December 1898, no locality, coll. A. Alleon. 

2921 Ad male, 11 February 1 894, San Stefano(l 5km WSW of C Istanbul, Turkey), 
coll A. Alleon. L 940, A 608, C 291, R 53.0, T 93, D 102. 

2934 Ad female, 29 January 1 899, Demircikoy (20 km N of C Istanbul, Turkey), 
coll. A. Alleon. 

2935 Ad male, 23 December 1894, Demircikoy (as above), coll. A. Alleon. 

2936 Juv, 7 November 1898, Demircikoy (as above), coll. A. Alleon. 

Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca. Vulnerable. CITES I. Thirty-nine: 

500 Ad, 21 October 1890, Bulgaria. 

501 Ad female, no further data. 
504 Juv, 12 June 1916, Vranya near Sofia (W Bulgaria). 

ZlawzarBoev 238 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

505 Juv, 18 November 1930, Sgledintsi near Sofia. 

2837 Juv, June 1882, Rumelia [former region, = S Bulgaria]. 

2S38 Juv male, 3 June 1902, Sofia. 

2848 Ad, 19 October 1898, 'Sent George' [untraced; no further data]. 

2849 Ad female, 16 March 1894, Bosporus (Turkey), coll. A. Alleon. L 855, A 
612; C 312, R 44.5, T 91, D 96. 

2850 Ad, Bulgaria. L 950, A 640, C 303, R 44,5, T 100, D 1 10. 

2851 Juv male, 28 March 1899, Makrikoy (10 km WSW of C Istanbul, Turkey), 
coll. A. Alleon. L 850, A 597, C 305, R 41 .4, T 90, D 93. 
28 1 3 Ad female, 20 April 1 893, Yarem-Bourgas (near Istanbul, Turkey), coll. A. 
Alleon. L 883, A 626, C 293, R 4 1 .8, T 93, D 100. 

2910 Ad, 2 December 1892, Tsaribrod (= Dimitrovgrad in present-day 

2918 Juv female, 3 March 1898, Makrikoy (see above), coll. A. Alleon. 
2931 & 2932 Juvs, no further data. 

4773 Unsexed, 30 January 1895, Tarnovo-Seymen [now Simeonovgrad, SE 
Bulgaria], coll. Starikov. 

4774 Juv male, died Sofia Zoo 5 July 1903. 

4775 Juv female, 11 March 1904, Krichim (SW Bulgaria). 

4776 & 4777 Ad and juv, Bulgaria. 

4778 Juv female, 25 July 1894, Bulgaria. 

4779 & 4783 Juv female and juv male, 17 February 1902, Sofia. 

4780 Ad female, 9 February 1902, Sofia. 

4781 Ad female, 15 September 1894, Pancharevo (Bulgaria). 

4782 Juv female, 1 April [year unspecified], Sofia. 

4784 Juv, 1896, Plovdiv (S-C Bulgaria). 

4785 Unsexed, 10 October 1911, Sofia. 

4786 Juv male, died in Sofia Zoo on 12 April 1885. 

4787 Juv male, 17 November 1906, Sofia. 

4788 Juv male, 27 September 1893, Belitsa (SW Bulgaria). 

4789 Ad male, 9 February 1895, Tarnovo [now Veliko Tarnovo, CN Bulgaria]. 

4790 Ad male, 12 June 1911, Sofia. 

4791 & 4793 Juvs, 18 and 17 February 1929, Euxinograd [near Varna, NE 

4792 & 4794 Ad female and ad unsexed, 7 May 1898, Plovdiv. 
4795 Ad male, 16 February 1917, Pleven district (N Bulgaria). 

Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga. Vulnerable. Thirteen: 

493 Ad female, 15 November 1932, Burgas (E Bulgaria), coll. V Yulius. L 695, 
A 517, C 280, R34,T100, D 90. 

494 Juv female, 8 July 1904, Sofia (W Bulgaria). 

495 Ad male, 24 April 1895, Plovdiv (S-C Bulgaria). 
2925 Ad male, 21 April 1890, Banya near Kostenets (SW Bulgaria). 

ZlatozarBoev 239 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

• 2926 Juv male, September 1899, Marmara (an island in the Sea of Marmara, 
Turkey), coll. A. Alleon. 

• 2927 Ad male, 7 May 1894, Bosporus (Turkey), coll. A. Alleon. L 735, A 564, C 
290, R 36.4, T 90, D 83. 

• 2929 Juv, June 1882, Dobrogea (E Romania), coll. A. Alleon. 

• 4759 Ad male, 17 June 1911, Krichim (SW Bulgaria). 

• 4760 & 4761 Ad females, 11 April 1918 and 27 May 1907, Krichim. 

• 4762 Ad female, 28 March 1894, Kumanitsa near Sofia (W Bulgaria). 

• 4772 Unsexed, 1 August 1947, Samokov (SW Bulgaria). 

• 5091 Ad male, died in Sofia Zoo in February 1984, coll. A. Prostov. 


Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni. Vulnerable. Fifteen: 

486 Ad female, Bulgaria. L 355, A 250, C 155, R 14.1, T 31, D 40. 

487 Ad male, Plovdiv (S-C Bulgaria). 

3059 Juv male, 26 August 1894, no locality, coll. A. Alleon. 

3060 & 3061 Ad males, 30 March 1899 and 22 April 1895, San Stefano (15km 
WSW of C Istanbul, Turkey), coll. A. Alleon. 

3062 Ad male, Bulgaria. 

3063 Ad female, 4 August 1919, Krichim (SW Bulgaria). 

3064 Ad female, 29 April 1890, Plovdiv (S-C Bulgaria), coll. A. Alleon. 

3065 & 3067 Ad female and ad male, 4 April 1890, Plovdiv, coll. A. Alleon. 

3066 Juv female, 28 September 1895, Demirci (20 km N of C Istanbul, Turkey), 
coll. A. Alleon. 

3068 Juv female, 20 August 1894, Makrikoy (10 km WSW of C Istanbul, Turkey), 
coll. A. Alleon. L 323, A 223, C 144, R 12.7, T 26.4, D 30. 

3069 Ad female, April 1892, Makrikoy (as above), coll. A. Alleon. 

3070 & 3071 Unsexed juvs, June 1892, Rumelia (former region, = S Bulgaria), 
coll. A. Alleon. 

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. CITES I. Eleven: 

• 463 Ad male, 14 January 1 894, £ekmece (20 km W of Istanbul, Turkey), coll. A. 

• 464, 3111 & 3117 Juv female and two juv males, 14 November 1898,23 October 
1898, and 8 October 1893, respectively, Makrikoy (10 km WSW of C Istanbul, 
Turkey), coll. A. Alleon.) 

• 3109 Juv female, 6 December 1897, £ekmece (see above), coll. A. Alleon. L 
430, A 370, C 205, R 22.2, T 47.5, D 80. 

• 3110 Ad male, 2 October 1897, Demirci (20 km N of C Istanbul, Turkey), coll. 
A. Alleon. L 465, A 318, C 170, R 19.5, T 40.7, D 69. 

• 3112 Juv female, 11 August 1893, Bulgaria. 

• 3113 Ad female, January 1893, Makrikoy (see above), coll. A. Alleon. 

• 3115 Ad male, 12 March 1901, Plovdiv (S-C Bulgaria). 

• 3 1 1 8 Ad female, Bulgaria. 

ZlatozarBoev 240 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

• 3 1 2 1 Ad female, 1 4 January 1 899, Makrikoy (see above), coll. A. Alleon. L 440, 
A 378, C 178, R 23.4, T 46, D 79. 


Alagoas Curassow Mitu mini. Critically Endangered. CITES I. One: 

• 620 Unsexed, received alive in Sofia Zoo on 20 May 1924 and died 9 February 
1938. This specimen shows most but not all the characters of Mitu mitu as opposed 
to Razor-billed Curassow M. tuberosa. L 900, C 330, T 120, A 398, R (tip to 
gape) 59.6, (tip to forehead over culmen) 66 (Boev 1997b). 


Cabot's Tragopan Tragopan caboti. Vulnerable. Two, both from Sofia Zoo: 

• 607 Ad male, died 6 February 1898. L 500, A 242, C 200, R 21.4, T -, D 87. 

• 3954 Ad male, died 7 February 1 898. 

Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus. CITES I. Eight, all from Sofia Zoo: 

• 621 Female, died 5 September 1897. L 600, A 285, C 188, R 34.5, T 60, D 64. 

• 622 Juv female, died 3 September 1900. 

• 623 Male, died 14 February 1906. L 652, A 288, C 196, R 42.2, T 69, D 69.7. 

• 3890 & 3891 Ad males, died 6 October 1900 and 24 November 1901. 

• 3894 Juv male, died 11 September 1897. 

• 3892 & 3895 Ad male and ad female. 

Siamese Fireback Lophura diardi. Vulnerable (now Near Threatened). Two, both 
from Sofia Zoo: 

• 626 Ad male, died 10 April 1903. L 690, A 251, C 370, R 28.3, T 87, D 49.3. 

• 627 Ad female, died 31 March 1899. L 520, A 220, C 220, R 26.1, T 75.0, D 42. 

Crested Fireback Lophura ignita. Vulnerable (now Near Threatened). Four, all from 
Sofia Zoo: 

• 609 Ad male, ssp. rufa, died 25 November 1898. L 670, A 295, C 260, R 34.4, T 
109, D 58.6. 

• 610 Ad female, ssp. rufa, died 4 November 1897. L 490, A 225, C 174, R 25.9, T 
74, D 39.5. 

• 65 1 Ad male, ssp. nobilis, died 17 October 1899. L 640, A 300, C 270, R 30, T 
112, D 67.2. 

• 653 Ad female, ssp. nobilis, died 27 January 1903. L 535, A 290, C 198, R 25, T 
74, D55. 

Swinhoe's Pheasant Lophura swinhoei. Vulnerable (now Near Threatened). CITES 
I. Eight, all from Sofia Zoo: 

• 6 1 4 Ad male, died 2 1 February 1 899. L 592, A 272, C 24 1 , R 3 1 .4, T 8 1 , D 60.6. 

• 615 Juv female, died 1 September 1901. 

• 6 1 6 Ad female, died 3 1 March 1 908. L 550, A 242, C 250, R 24.5, T 73, D 52. 

• 619 No data 

ZlatozarBoev 241 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

• 3791, 3809, 3810, 3783 Juv males, died 15 April 1898, 12 August 1901, 6 
November 1899, and 18 August 1900, respectively. 

Reeves's Pheasant Syrmaticus reevesii. Vulnerable. Thirteen, many of these from a 
feral population living in the woods near Krichim (SW Bulgaria, near Plovdiv): 

595 Ad male, Krichim, 4 March 1920, shot by H M Tsar Boris III. L 1,980, A 

290, C 1,610, R 31.2, T 88, D 65.4. 

597 Ad female, 24 January 1912 [Krichim]. L 730, A 232, C 383, R 25.4, T 57, D 


2183 Ad male, 27 October 1909, Krichim, coll. H M Boris III. 

2484 Ad female, 27 January 1912 [Krichim]. 

2185, 2187 & 2188 Ad males, 3 November 1914, 23 January 1914, and 17 

November 1917 [Krichim]. 

2186 Ad male, 27 January 1914 [Krichim], coll. Princess Nadezhda. 

2189, 2190 & 5189 Ad males, died in Sofia Zoo 10 October 1899, 18 June 1898 

and 20 October 1994. 

4000 Ad female, no further data. 

4014 Ad female, died in Sofia Zoo 15 June 1898. 

Elliot's Pheasant Syrmaticus ellioti. Vulnerable. CITES I. Five, all from Sofia Zoo: 

601 Ad male, died 10 November 1899. L 760, A 236, C 432, R 29.9, T 67, D 

602 Ad female, died 9 May 1899. L 440, A 210, C 177, R 23, T 60, D 48.4. 
3960 & 3965 Ad males, died 26 January 1897 and 29 October 1897. 
3964 Ad female, died 21 March 1901. 

Brown Eared-pheasant Crossoptilon mantchuricum. Vulnerable. CITES I. Three, 
all from Sofia Zoo: 

• 650 Ad male, died March 1901. L 940, A 310, C 520, R 32.2, T 105, D 73.5. 

• 3927 No data. 

• 3972 Ad male, died 19 March 1901. 

Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii. Vulnerable. CITES I. Two, both from Sofia Zoo: 

• 612 Ad female, died 26 July 1899. L 762, A 230, C 445, R 21, T 75, D 51.8. 

• 613 Ad male, died 30 November 1904. L 918, A 255, C 557, R 29.3, T 68, D 

Green Peafowl Pavo muticus. Vulnerable. Two, both from Sofia Zoo: 

• 563 Ad male, died 13 April 1910. L 2,040, A 495, C -, R 46.4, T 155, D 103. 

• 564 Ad female, died 12 December 1897. 


Blue Crane Anthropoides paradisea. Vulnerable. One, from Sofia Zoo: 

• 515 Unsexed, died 13 September 1900. L 1,320, A 518, C 545, R 72, T 222, D 

ZtatozarBoev 242 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

Red-crowned Crane Grus japonensis. Endangered. CITES I. One, from Sofia Zoo: 

• 513 Ad male, died 18 October 1906. L 1,470, A 680, C 330, R 156, T 305, D 



Corncrake Crex crew Vulnerable. Three: 

• 208 Ad male, died in Sofia Zoo 16 August 1893. 

• 209 Ad male, 18 May 1894, £ekmece (20 km W of Istanbul, Turkey), coll. A. 
Alleon. L 263, A 140, C 65, R 21.0, T 33.4, D 37.6. 

• 210 Juv, Bulgaria. 


Great Bustard Otis tarda. Vulnerable. Five: 

• 593 & 2497 Ad males, 10 January 1928, Euxinograd [near Varna, NE Bulgaria]. 

• 594 Ad male, 22 February 1940, Bozhurishte near Sofia (W Bulgaria). L -, A 
632, C 265, R 42.5, T 163, D 77. 

• 2496 Ad female, January 1890, Central Market of Sofia. L 915, A 5 13, C 280, R 
38.7, T 123, D 57.5. 

• 2498 Ad female, 20 January 1 896, Makrikoy ( 1 km WS W of C Istanbul, Turkey), 
coll. A. Alleon. 


Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris. Critically Endangered. CITES I. Six: 

406 Ad female, 31 March 1914, Sofia (W Bulgaria). 

407 Ad male, 24 March 1899, Mramor [near Sofia]. 

408 Ad female, December 1892, Istanbul (Turkey), coll. A. Alleon. 

2772 Ad male, 28 March 1890, Kumanitsa near Sofia. 

2773 Ad female, 11 September 1895, Makrikoy (10 km WSW of C Istanbul, 
Turkey), coll. A. Alleon. L 445, A 267, C 1 12, R 91, T 69, D 36.7. 

• 2774 Ad male, received on 26 March 1899 from somewhere in Bulgaria. L 455, 
A 263, C 117, R 75, T 64, D 36.5. 


Luzon Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba luzonica. CITES I. Four, all from Sofia Zoo: 

• 707 Ad male, died 30 October 1898. L 295, A 1 65, C 1 15, R 17.8, T 33.6, D 32.8. 

• 708 Ad male, died 1 October 1 899. 

• 709 Ad female, died 5 February 1899. L 272, A 150, C 98, R 15.7, T 31.2, D 33.5. 

• 710 Ad, no data. 

Nicobar Pigeon Caloenas nicobarica. CITES I. Three, from Sofia Zoo: 

• 773 Ad male, died 23 October 191 1. L 345, A 290, C 1 15, R 23.8, T 45, D 34 
(without claw). 

• 774 Ad female, died 1 4 December 1 898. 

• 775 Juv male, died 23 September 1909. L318, A 192, C 102, R 28.8, T 44, D 

ZlatozarBoev 243 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Western Crowned Pigeon Goura cristata. Vulnerable. Two, both from Sofia Zoo: 

• 736 Ad female, died 12 December 1898. L770, A345, C 265, R 37.0, T92, D 68. 

• 737 Ad female, died 26 September 1901 . L 670, A 350, C 220, R 30.8, T 83, D 63. 


Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus. CITES I. One: 

• 1785 Ad, ex Nehrkorn Mus. L 780, A 395, C 274, R 107.8, T 31, D 75. 

Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea, ssp. parvula. Critically Endangered. 
One, from Sofia Zoo: 

• 1843 Ad female [Timor], died 10 March 1895. Earlier Boev (1990) listed this 
specimen as C. s. occidentalism but Timor Island is inhabited by C. s. parvula 
(del Hoyo et al. 1997). L 420, A 224, C 114, R 34.7, T 24, D 39.7. 

Salmon-crested Cockatoo Cacatua moluccensis. Vulnerable. CITES I. One: 

• 1847 Ad, no further data. L 660, A 355, C 196, R 50.2, T 32, D 68.4. 


Swift Parrot Lathamus discolor. Endangered. One: 

• 1893 Ad male. L 254, A 122, C 116, R 12.6, T 11.7, D 25. 

Black-cheeked Lovebird Agapornis nigrigenis. Vulnerable. Three, all from Sofia Zoo: 

• 1873 Ad male, died 12 July 1923. L 157, A 96, C 57, R 14.4, T 11, D 20. 

• 1 874 Ad male, died 30 June 1 920. 

• 1875 Subad female, died 1918. L 180, A 100, C 53, R 15.3, T 11.7, D 24. 

Sangihe Hanging-parrot Loriculus catamene. Endangered. Two: 

• 1852 Ad male, coll. Russ. L 130, A 81.2, C 40, R 10.4, T 9, D 12.6. 

• 1853 Ad female, coll. Russ. L 141, A 83, C 44, R 9.4, T 11.4, D 17.6. 

Lear's Macaw Anodorhynchus leari. Critically Endangered. CITES I. One: 

• 1783 No data (old specimen). L 800, A 413, C 360, R 76.8, T 27, D 92. 

Hyacinth Macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus. Endangered. CITES I. One: 

• 1784 Ad, bought from Hagenbeck in Hamburg by Sofia Zoo on 7 April 1937, 
died 30 January 1940. L 1080, A 332, C 600, R 88.8, T 45, D 105. 

Golden-capped Conure Aratinga auricapilla. Vulnerable. Two: 

• 1797 Ad male, died in Sofia Zoo on 31 August 1909. L 352, A 79, C 79, R 27.2, 

• 1798 Ad male, no further data. 

Red-spectacled Amazon Amazona pretrei. Vulnerable. One: 

• 5 166 Ad male, Tucuman (Argentina), coll. by Carlos Berg, received from Denison 
(London). L 310, A 201, C 111, R 24.9, T 23, D 40. 

Yellow-shouldered Amazon Amazona barbadensis. Vulnerable. CITES I. One: 

• 1824 Ad, no further data (old specimen). L 389, A 203, C 138, R 30.2, T 18, D 41. 

ZkuozarBoev 244 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

White-headed Amazon Amazona leucocephala. CITES I. Three: 

• 1826 Amazona leucocephala cavmanensis Ad male. L 350, A 193, C 125, R 
28.6. T 23. D 50. 

1827 Amazona leucocephala leucocephala Ad female. L 351, A 189, C 126, R 
25.5, T 18. D46. 

• 5181 Amazona leucocephala cavmanensis Unsexed, obtained from Expo Plovdiv, 
1981 . L 324, A 192, C 1 19, R 22.8, T 18, D 48. 

Yellow-crowned Amazon Amazona oratrix. Endangered. One: 

• 1825 Ad [Mexico]. L 435, A 217, C 148, R 40.4, T 23, D 52. 

Carolina Parakeet Conuropsis carolinensis. Extinct (Fuller 1988). One: 

• 1799 Ad male, died in Sofia Zoo on 21 June 1901. L 377, A 194, C 166, R 24.5, 
T 16.5, D 34. 

Kakapo Strigops habroptilus. Critically Endangered. CITES I. One: 

• 1833 Ad [New Zealand], bought from E. Boubee Fils (Paris). L 640, A 268, C 
255, R 33.9, T 41, D 60. 


Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno. CITES I. Two: 

• 722 Ad male, 1903, Guatemala, don. M. de Voigts-Rhetz. L 1,053, A 200, C 850, 
R 17.2, T-, D34. 

• 723 Ad male. L 780, A 213, C 630, R 21.4, T 17.7, D 24.7. 


Red Siskin Carduelis cucullata. Endangered. CITES I. One: 

• 1921 Venezuela, died 12 July 1910 in Sofia Zoo. L 108, A 58, C 36, R 8.9, T 
11.9, D 9.0. 


Improvements to this paper were kindly provided by the referee, C. S. Roselaar. 


Anon. [=Gretzer, H.] 1907. Collections du Musee d'Histoire Naturelle de Son Altesse Royale Ferdinand 

I Prince de Bulgarie. Impr. de l'Etat, Sofia. 
Benson, C. W. 1 972. Skins of extinct or nearly extinct birds in Cambridge. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 92: 59-58. 
BirdLife International 2000. Threatened birds of the world. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K. 
Boev, Z. 1990. Parrots (Order Psittaciformes) in the collection of the National Natural History Museum 

Sofia. Hist. Nat. Bulg. 2: 3-6. 
Boev, Z. 1991. [Ornithological collections of the National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian 

Academy of Sciences.] Hist. Nat. Bulg. 3: 37-48. (In Bulgarian, English summary). 
Boev, Z. 1993. [The osteological collections and their importance for ornithological studies.] Hist. Nat. 

Bulg. 4: 3-9. (In Bulgarian, English summary). 
Boev, Z. 1997a. Stuart Baker's collection of birds in the National Museum of Natural History (Sofia). 

Hist. Nat. Bulg.l: 5-12. 
Boev, Z. 1997b. The Alagoas (Eastern-Brazil Razor-Billed) Curassow Mitu mitu (L.) — a world rarity in 

the collection of the National Museum of Natural History, Sofia. Hist. Nat. Bulg. 7: 105-108. 

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Collar, N. J., Crosby, M. J. & Stattersfield, A. J. 1994. Birds to watch 2: the world list of threatened 

birds. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K. 
Eck, S. 1970. Die ausgestorbenen Vogel (Balge, Skelette, Eier) in den Sammlungen des Staatlichen 

Museums fur Tierkunde in Dresden. Zool. Abh. Staatl. Mus. Tierkde. Dresden 30: 131-134. 
Fuller, E. 1988. Extinct birds. Facts On File Publications, New York & Oxford. 
Fisher, C. T. 1981. Specimens of extinct, endangered or rare birds in the Merseyside County Museums, 

Liverpool. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 101: 276-285. 
Howes, C. A. 1969. A survey of extinct and nearly extinct birds in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 

Exeter. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 89: 89-92. 
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.) 1992. Handbook of the birds of the world, 1. Lynx Edicions, 

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.) 1994. Handbook of the birds of the world, 2. Lynx Edicions, 

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.) 1996. Handbook of the birds of the world, 3. Lynx Edicions, 

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.) 1997. Handbook of the birds of the world, 4. Lynx Edicions, 

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.) 1999. Handbook of the birds of the world, 5. Lynx Edicions, 

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.) 2000. Handbook of the birds of the world, 6. Lynx Edicions, 

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.) 2002. Handbook of the birds of the world, 1 . Lynx Edicions, 

Jouanin, C. 1962. Inventaire des oiseaux eteints ou en voi d'extinction conserves au Museum de Paris. 

Terre et Vie 3: 257-301. 
Knox, A. G. & Walters, M. P. 1994. Extinct and endangered birds in the collections of the Natural 

History Museum. British Ornithologists' Union, Tring. 
Mertens, R. & Steinbacher, J. 1955. Die im Senckenberg Museum vorhandenen Arten ausgestorbener, 

aussterbender oder seltener Vogel. Senckenbergiana Biol. 36: 241-265. 
Neufeldt, LA. 1978. [Extinct birds in the collection of the Zoological Institute of the Academy of 

Sciences of the USSR. In: Systematics and biology of rare and less known birds.] Trudy Zool. Inst. 

Akad. Nauk SSSR 76: 101-110. (In Russian.) 
Sokolov, E. P. & Il'yashenko, V. Yu. 1987. [Birds of the Red Data Book of Russian SFSR in the collection 

of the Zoological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of USSR.] Pp. 106-1 12 in [Problems of 

conservation of the rare animals. Materials towards the Red Data Book.] Moscow: Nauk. (In 

Stresemann, E. 1954. Ausgestorbene und aussterbende Vogelarten, vertreten in Zoologischen Museum 

Berlin. Mitt. zool. Mus. Berlin 30: 38-53. 
Tomkovich, P. S. & Barisheva, I. K. 1987. [Birds of the Red Data Book of Russian SFSR in the collection 

of the Zoological Museum of the Moscow State University.] Pp.98- 105 in [Problems of conservation 

of the rare animals. Materials towards the Red Data Book.] Moscow: Nauk. (In Russian.) 
Tsaryk, Y. V. (ed.) 2000. Catalogue of rare and red data book species of animals in the Zoological 

Museum collections — Insecta, Pisces, Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves, Theria. Lviv: Zoological Museum, 

Ivan Franko University. 
Violani, C, Daturi, A. & Cagnolaro, L. 1984. Uccelli estinti e rari nei musei naturalistici di Milano, 

Genova e Firenze. Riv. ital. Orn. 54: 105-178. 
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museums throughout the world. Rec. Dominion Mus. 3: 219-227. 

Address: Z. Boev, National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1, blv. Tsar 
Osvoboditel, 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria. 

© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

Andrew S. R, ch ford 246 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Museums, books and costs: 
public service vs private enterprise 

by Andrew S. Richford 

Museums house a variety of resources important for the research and preparation of 
manuscripts and artwork for new book and journal publications. In particular, they 
have collections of printed library materials and specimen collections of birds. In 
this paper, I focus mainly on prepared skins as a reference material for authors and 
artists, since these are by far the most heavily used non-library resources, although 
the importance of collections of eggs, nests, skeletons and tissue samples can be 
considerable for certain projects. 

Authors preparing new books refer to skins for information on species 
identification, to resolve taxonomic issues, and to obtain data to confirm the 
geographic distribution of species and subspecies. In some cases their studies may 
establish new syntheses, while in others it is only necessary to check previously 
published results or resolve ambiguities in the published literature. Artists may also 
collaborate in such research, but mainly refer to skins to prepare new illustrations, 
usually combining measurements and information on plumage and form with data 
collected from photographs and detailed personal observations of living birds, 
whether wild or captive. 

The growth of interest in birds and birdwatching has provided new information 
on birds and their biology, distribution and identification, and has also generated a 
growing market for new books on these subjects — field guides, reference handbooks, 
and books on avian biology and ecology. A synergistic relationship between avian 
scientists working in laboratory and field, museum workers, and professional and 
amateur birdwatchers has brought our knowledge of birds, and the books published 
on them, to a level of excellence scarcely conceived half a century ago when the 
first volume of Witherby's Handbook of British birds was published. 

Many quality publishers have played their part in these advances, through careful 
and conscientious production and publication of books to the highest standards of 
the day. Each new book seeks to include the latest research and information, so 
regular reference to museum specimens and libraries is a continuing need. For 
example, while many different illustrations of, say, gulls or warblers have been 
published over the years, each new generation of illustrators has been able to 
incorporate new information on the plumage details of newly recognised taxonomic 
groups or on the fine distinctions between the different age and sex classes. This all 
advances our knowledge of species limits and field identification. 

There will never be an end either to research on birds or to the need for new and 
better illustrated books. Museums and their collections have a key role to play in 
these advances, through the provision of resource material. In return, the work of 
many authors and artists often helps curators to understand their collections better 
and sometimes even to revise and refine the organisation and cataloguing of the 
skins in their care. 

Andrew S. Richford 247 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

The natural history specimens assembled in the world's museums represent a 
heritage asset of outstanding importance. In a perfect world, this material would be 
held as a free public resource, contributing to and benefitting from the work of scientists 
and dedicated amateurs, as well as providing an educational resource for the wider 
public. The material held in museum collections also has an international context. It 
has commonly been gathered and donated by generations of fieldworkers, of many 
nationalities, operating all over the world, often with the explicit requirement that this 
material is for the use and edification of the public. Many specimens have been donated 
by the great philanthropists of the past. These collections are precious, important and 
in many cases simply irreplaceable — a historic and living treasure trove. In past 
centuries the main purpose of natural history museums was to catalogue the world's 
species; now they are also used to describe evolutionary change and the patterns of 
biodiversity, and to inform our efforts at conservation in a changing world. 

But a trend is appearing that threatens the traditional constructive synergies. 
Increasingly, the funding necessary to maintain and curate museum collections is in 
short supply. In the U.K. in particular, budgets are dwindling and museums are 
being forced by their managers to find funds on their own account. A 'user pays' 
philosophy is starting to spread, leading to such things as entrance charges to the 
public and 'bench fees' for any users of skin collections, including bird artists, who 
are considered to be likely to benefit commercially as a consequence. Currently this 
tendency appears to be rare in Europe and only in its infancy in the U.S.A.; artists 
may be charged for actual expenses incurred in sorting or posting specimens, but 
not for time spent working in the collections. In many museums in the U.K., however, 
artists are now routinely charged for merely referring to skins at the museum bench. 
Museum curators and managers seem generally unhappy with the need to make 
such charges, but are left with little option in the face of reduced funding and 
management pressure from above. 

Publishers, meanwhile, are always squeezed on the one hand by costs and on the 
other by market price resistance. A lavishly illustrated field guide often costs less 
than one of a pair of training shoes, yet is certainly far more expensive to produce. 
Publishing is a low-margin business. The list price charged for a book must cover 
fees and royalties to authors and artists, direct costs of copy-editing, origination, 
printing and binding, booksellers' and agents' discounts, and the publisher's overheads 
of staffing, marketing, warehousing and distribution as well as returning a working 
profit. This is a huge claim on the price of an average field guide or reference 
handbook. Bird books also ofen have large numbers of colour illustrations and are 
relatively expensive to produce: printing costs are high, despite constant 
improvements in the industry, and artists must of course be paid a living wage to 
produce the copious original artwork that illustrates new and better books. Yet many 
high-quality bird books are still quite specialist in nature, and print runs are relatively 
modest when compared to high-street bestsellers. Hence the cost of producing them 
must somehow be borne by a modest customer base. 

Extra costs always increase the price of books. When bench fees are charged, 
artists usually cannot afford to absorb them within their usual prices, and must pass 

Andrew S. Rich ford 248 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

the charge on to the publishers, who must in turn pass these costs on to readers 
through the book price. Hence the 'user pays' regime ultimately identifies the reader 
as the user. Perhaps this is as it should be in a capitalist society; but in my view the 
bench fee system engenders more evils than solutions. Although the fees that are 
charged are currently moderate, and seem to be charged only to artists, not to authors, 
they are a growing pressure on the costs of book preparation and hence book price. 
But being small, how much do they really address the financial difficulties of 
museums? How much of the charge is left after administration costs? It is easy to 
think that they are more to do with the philosophy of museum funding and access 
than the reality of solving the funding problem. But what if charging becomes more 
widespread, or charges increase so as to really generate worthwhile income, or authors 
are also charged for access to library and specimen resources? The impact on 
publishing and the price of books would be considerable. Books would really rise in 
price. Specialist books for smaller markets — arguably including some of the most 
valuable to the research community — would not be published at all if the price to be 
charged exceeds the publisher's expectation of what the market can realistically 
bear. Fewer, more expensive books will represent a loss to the scientific, museum 
and lay communities alike. Alternatively, artists and publishers will be forced to 
shun museums which make charges, to the detriment of the quality of the books they 
produce. Some of these things are already happening. Field guide prices in 
particular — books where the illustration costs are a major factor — are becoming 
really quite expensive and some U.K. publishers no longer use the Natural History 
Museum collections at Tring. 

Ideology regarding the function of museums and the right of public access to 
their resources comes head to head with economic reality, and each will have their 
own attitude to the dilemma. I believe that museums should hold fast to the principle 
that they are the guardians of a common world heritage as well as the providers of 
the fruits of that heritage. Those who preside over the governance and funding of 
museums should understand that the provision of free access to their collections is a 
public and moral duty, that books produced with reference to museum collections 
add to the common good, and that such books feed back directly into the work of 
museum curators. By contrast, publishing runs to business rules and can only be 
expected to work in this way. Competition will manage the problem of sensible 
price maintainance if costs can be controlled. Publishers can help by continuing to 
do good business by providing good books. They can help museums justify free 
provision of resources by making fulsome acknowledgement of museum help, by 
showing museum logos on title pages, and by providing a generous allowance of 
complementary books for museum libraries. Museums would thereby gain kudos 
and standing by participating in publishing projects as partners in an educational 
and research activity — an extension of the service to the public which lies at the 
heart of their guiding philosophy. 

Address: Andrew S. Richf'ord. 47 Overn Crescent, Buckingham MK18 1LY, UK 

<Q British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

Martin W Woodcock 249 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Some reflections on the use of skins in 
bird illustration 

by Martin W Woodcock 

The last fifty years have seen a huge increase in the use made by bird illustrators of 
museum skin collections. This has been almost exclusively due to the proliferation 
of textbooks and field guides to the birds of many parts of the world, using ever 
more comprehensive illustration coverage. Illustrators are obliged to refer to study 
skins for species they have never seen in the wild, and for information on intraspecific 
plumage variation owing to racial differences, gender, age, moult and/or feather- 
wear factors. 

It is important for the artist using museum material to be aware of the information 
he or she can actually glean from skins, for this avenue of research is by no means 
the only one available, and indeed has to be amplified by other techniques (although 
these are outside the scope of this paper). 

Many large museum collections have a wide (if mostly not comprehensive) range 
of species preserved as study skins. In some cases there are numerous examples of 
each species, from which one may select birds of different ages and sexes, and those 
collected in different geographical locations, showing subspecific variation. The 
opportunity to lay out different examples of birds, side by side on the museum bench, 
is of enormous value. Much present bird illustration would have been virtually 
impossible in the absence of this ability. However advanced field techniques 
become — in the way of optical equipment, netting birds, electronic images and other 
means — and however detailed a study can be made of an individual bird in the field, 
only the museum collection can provide actual and close comparison between 
different age groups, subspecies and so on. 

Critical examination of skins can be used for information on exact plumage 
colouration and markings (subject to drawbacks discussed below), on comparative 
sizes and shapes of bill and feet, precise measurements of some features, and general 
morphological aspects such as an idea (necessarily approximate owing to differing 
styles of preservation) of body size, wing and tail shape and length. In a good 
collection, this can be done to compare a series of skins both for subspecific 
differences and for changes due to ageing, moult or feather wear. These factors 
receive an increasing coverage in modern bird books but were, with a few important 
exceptions, hardly covered at all in books published up to around the middle of the 
twentieth century. It is worth noting that, with the advent of sophisticated optical 
equipment and advanced field techniques, data observable on wild birds can be 
confirmed on museum skins, and vice versa. 

It will, of course, be clear to anyone contemplating referring to study skins in 
order to make representations of live birds, that in no way can the skin give a 
dependable idea of the appearance of a bird in life. This is particularly important to 
acknowledge in terms of the phenomenon known as 'jizz', that is, such aspects as 

Martin UV VSbodcock 250 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

stance, usual positions of wings and tail, bulk or slenderness, and so forth. However, 
there are many other problems which arise from using museum material of which 
the illustrator has to be aware. Most obviously, a skin cannot be pulled around in 
order, for instance, to stretch the wings out (in some museums this particular problem 
lias been addressed by preparing a skin with one wing outstretched, but this has 
serious implications for storage). The ability or opportunity to handle freshly dead 
birds immediately shows the disadvantage of a cabinet skin in this respect. 

To continue with comparisons with a freshly dead bird, the cabinet skin, in the 
process of being made up, inevitably loses some of the natural lay of the feathers, 
and this can present quite specific problems in trying to assess how complicated 
plumage patterns, such as those on nightjars, Caprimulgidae, and gamebirds, 
Galliformes, appear in life. Also, techniques of preparation vary, and in some cases, 
in order to achieve a neat skin, some feathering (such as on the sides of the body) 
can be concealed. Features which may be very apparent in life, especially in small 
birds, can easily be lost entirely or to an important degree. Furthermore, the dried 
and shrunken legs and feet on a skin give very little idea of these features in life. 
Where it occurs, bare skin colour around the eye may be a feature in the field, but 
mostly fades in the skin, and colours of bill, legs and feet usually undergo major 
post-mortem change. These colours, together with that of the iris, are sometimes 
recorded on the collector's label, but older skins usually lack this information, and 
the terms used to describe colours are evidently subjective, so that one may be left 
having to interpret such names as 'plum', 'amethyst' and 'lake-red' (see below re 
colour guides). 

A more insidious problem derives from post-mortem changes in plumage 
colouration, which can result from various causes. Fading occurs over a period of 
time, and foxing, where green or olive hues tend to go brown or even reddish-brown, 
may be apparent when a skin is compared with fresh material. This subject was 
discussed by Wagstaffe & Williamson (1947) when they drew attention to noticeable 
disparities in colouration in a range of species — including Ringed Plover Charadrius 
hiaticula, Hooded Crow Corvus {corone) comix, Song Thrush Turdus philomelos 
and Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula — depending on whether they were freshly dead or 
conserved as skins over long periods. In old skins of the Chough Pyrrhocorax 
pyrrhocorax, for instance, the purple in the body plumage intensifies substantially; 
illustrations made from such skins may be misleading as a result, and this obviously 
has a bearing on illustrations purporting to show subtle variation in plumages of 
similar taxa. Other factors affecting colouration include prolonged exposure of fresh 
skins to sunlight, and chemicals used in skin preparation. Mercuric chloride, for 
instance, stains white feathers black, a phenomenon I have noted around the feet of 
a sandgrouse specimen. The problem is compounded by the fact that even in closely 
related species fading, for instance of yellow, may occur in one species but not in 
the other. 

This whole problem highlights the lack of a reliable and easy-to-use colour guide, 
with a consistent nomenclature, which would be immensely useful in making 

Martin W Woodcock 251 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

definitive descriptions of plumage and soft-part colours in trapped or freshly collected 
birds. Such guides as have been attempted, going back to John Gould in 1839, are 
unsatisfactory for various reasons. In Ridgway's (1912) Color standards and color 
nomenclature, for instance, over 1,000 colour terms are used, but unfortunately the 
swatches showing these colours have faded since publication, the degree of change 
differing even between different copies of the book. The Villalobos Atlas (1947) 
uses over 7,000 colour swatches (far too many for most people to discriminate 
between) but at the other extreme, the most recent work by Smithe (1975) shows 
only 86 colours, although the text is informative; Pickford (1970) urged use of the 
Munsell scheme, developed in 1905, which has as many as 1,450 divisions based on 
'hue', 'value' and 'chroma'. It should not, however, be impossible to produce a 
highly serviceable guide nowadays, with the benefit of modern technology. 

An absolutely integral item of information that goes (or should go) with every 
skin is, of course, the collector's label, identifying the species, sex, locality of 
collection and so forth. There are, however, various pitfalls in using the information 
on labels (outlined in Rasmussen & Prys-Jones 2003, this issue). Apart from the 
documentation of colours in life, mentioned above (but often hard to squeeze onto 
the standard museum label when the data are complex to any degree), the specimen 
may have been incorrectly sexed or even entirely misattributed to species, and there 
are many problems in interpreting the actual locality (which commonly bears on the 
discrimination of subspecific characters). There is also the challenge, particularly to 
any user unfamiliar with taxonomy, of outmoded nomenclature, which commonly 
survives on labels. 

In ideal situations, authors and artists should work closely together to ensure 
accurate artwork. In my experience, this happens too infrequently, for various reasons. 
Some authors are uninterested in artwork, some feel unable criticise it, while others 
are impossibly critical. Some authors and experts, on the other hand, can come up 
with very helpful and informed criticism. In most cases, it is just too difficult to get 
people together at the museum bench to look through all the relevant skins against 
the illustrations. In comprehensive works, this would be an extremely time-consuming 
task, on top of the time already spent in preparing the text and plates. However, the 
high quality nowadays of colour photocopies means that illustrators can at least 
circulate copies of their work for checking and comments. 

Apart from the specific issues of working with skins, there are some points worth 
noting in the wider context of bird illustrators and museum collections. In these 
days of extensively illustrated textbooks on birds from all parts of the world, those 
institutions with the most comprehensive collections are becoming more and more 
essential for illustrators, and the collections in them subject to ever more handling. 
There are, in fact, rather a small number of museums with really good worldwide 
collections, mostly in the eastern United States and north-west Europe, so that 
illustrators living outside these areas have problems of access; costs must be incurred 
either by them or by their publishers. Also to be considered is the fairly recent 

Martin W Wbodcock 252 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123A 

imposition of charges for artists working in some collections. This may be justifiable 
in the light of the work being done for commercial reasons rather than scientific 
research (although it is at least arguable that the creation of accurate images of 
species, whether commercial or not, is a form of science — after all, some species 
were described on the basis of their illustration — and is certainly a contribution to 
the ability of fieldworkers, often conducting scientific surveys, to report with 
confidence on their observations). However, these costs are passed on by publishers 
to the consumer in the final price of the book (see Richford 2003, this issue), and it 
is already evident that prices of some important reference works have drifted well 
beyond the reach of many would-be purchasers in poorer parts of the world. This 
circumstance reduces their contribution to the dissemination of ornithological 

The ever-increasing use of skin collections by researchers from all over the world, 
and the consequent frequent handling of skins, poses a curatorial conservation 
problem. Damage to skins includes broken or missing legs, and wings or heads 
falling off. Labels also become detached when tied loose or to a leg that falls off — 
and why are not workers handling valuable and indeed irreplaceable skins not required 
to wear surgical gloves (or at least required to wash their hands thoroughly before 
each session at a bench)? When illustrators in particular are concerned, it is possible 
that the imposition of charges and publishers' deadlines may lead to more hurried 
work, which also is not conducive to maintaining collections in the best condition. 


Pickford, K. D. (1970) Colour definition. Ibis 112: 117. 

Rasmussen, R C. & Prys-Jones, R. P. (2003) History vs mystery: the reliability of museum specimen 

data. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 123 A: 66-94. 
Richford, A. S. (2003) Museum collections as a publisher's resource. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 123A: 246- 

Ridgway, R. (1912) Color standards and color nomenclature. Washington, D.C. 
Smithe, F. (1975) The naturalist's color guide. American Museum of Natural History, New York. 
Villalobos-Dominguez, C. & Villalobos, J. (1947) Atlas de los colores. Libreria El Ateneo Editorial, 

Buenos Aires. 
Wagstaffe, R. & Williamson, K. (1947) Cabinet colour-changes in bird-skins and their bearing on racial 

segregation. Brit. Birds 40: 322-325. 

Address: Martin W. Woodcock, Furlongs, Long Lane, Wiveton, Holt, Norfolk NR25 7DD, UK 
© British Ornithologists' Club 2003 

C.S. Roselaar 253 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

An inventory of major 
European bird collections 

by C. S. Roselaar 


During a Round Table Discussion convened by Dr Walter Bock and Dr Henri Ouellet 
at the XXI International Ornithological Congress in Vienna, 20-25 August 1994, a 
number of staff members of European ornithological collections expressed the opinion 
that more cooperation among them was desirable. Many museums suffer from 
shrinking budgets, making improvement, maintenance, or even access to the 
collections difficult. Maintaining the world's biodiversity is of major concern among 
biologists at the moment, and although this concern is also acknowledged by various 
governments it has not resulted in any additional support for museum ornithology. 

Bird collections form a rich source of biodiversity data. Taxonomic information 
in regional and global handbooks can only be extracted from museum collections. 
Morphometric data taken from skins of various populations are of importance for 
unravelling migration patterns for instance. Population studies profit from collections 
of specimens of known age and sex. Reference collections for identification and 
training will always be needed, both for laymen (e.g. rarity committees) and scientists 
(e.g. as help in enforcement of CITES and other national and international nature 
conservation legislation, for the statistics of bird/aircraft collisions, archaeology, 
and in ecological studies). Recently, bird skins or feathers have acquired additional 
relevance as a source of DNA for phylogenetic and population studies. Biochemical 
data have become a major source of phylogenetic information, from the level of 
populations up to the level of phyla, but can only be interpreted with reference to 
collections of entire organisms. 

The main aims of this inventory are to facilitate the exchange of data among bird 
staff of European museums and to provide information to potential users of bird 
collections about the material available and their whereabouts. The information on 
which this inventory is based was obtained by sending questionnaires to those major 
European ornithological collections of which the addresses could be found. In all, 
190 questionnaires were distributed, of which 160 were returned. For c. 100 other 
collections presented here data derive from websites, country lists, various literature 
(e.g. Stresemann 1951, Gebhardt 1964-1974, Mearns & Mearns 1998), or from 
colleagues in nearby museums. The data given below are mostly the words of the 
various respondents, and therefore vary somewhat in thoroughness. Under the title 
References it is explained that the citations are, with some editing, as supplied by 
correspondents; however, it should also be noted that short references given in the 
texts, usually without titles of the papers, are again as given by correspondents. 

Minor collections (fewer than c. 4,000 study skins or fewer than 5,000 bird items) 
as well as collections for which only limited data were available (e.g. because the 

C.S. Roselaar 254 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

curators did not respond to the questionnnaire) are included in the 'B-list'. This list 
is likely to contain some more important collections, and a few major collections 
may have been overlooked entirely. Readers are kindly requested to send the author 
details of any collection they know of, or other data omitted from the main list 
(although, for reasons of space, no collections with fewer than c. 100 well-labelled 
bird items will be included). These may then be included in a next version of this 
inventory (e.g. an updated electronic one). I offer my apologies for any omissions 
from my side. Note that this inventory was mainly based on the answers of the 
respondents and did not include literature research; when checking the literature 
references supplied by the various respondents, further details on the included 
collections and others are likely to be found. 

Appendix 1 lists museums by country. Appendix 2 assigns major collectors to 
the museum to which their collections (largely) went. Appendix 3 tabulates the top 
1 29 European museums in terms of size of collection, with equivalent non-European 
museums for comparison. 

The 'A-list', based largely on the questionnaires received 

The data presented for the 109 bird collections on the A-list follow the structure of 
the questionnaire. Entries are listed alphabetically by cities, with preferred acronym 
added (occasionally deviating from that proposed in Leviton et al. 1985). The first 
four paragraphs below the heading of each collection contain present-day addresses 
and details of the staff involved with birds. The date on which the questionnaire was 
received or updated is added: the details as shown were valid at least on that date. 
The next four paragraphs present some details on the history of the collection, 
including some of the more important contributors; in the list of important collections 
represented, those of staff members mentioned in the previous paragraph are not 
repeated. The last five paragraphs give some details on the present-day contents of 
the collection, including the number of skins represented and specialities. 

The A-list includes data from collections which include c.4,000 or more bird 
skins for scientific study, or, for those which have less, have important numbers of 
skeletons, anatomical specimens or other bird items. Please note that the size of a 
collection (expressed in number of bird items available) is not the only value to 
judge its importance: the presence of type specimens, skins or mounts of rare or 
extinct birds, or of skins from areas not or poorly covered by other museums, may 
make small collections particularly noteworthy. 

Note that the 'Tring collection' mentioned in much of the older literature refers 
to the private collection of Lord Rothschild, not to the present-day BMNH (now 
Natural History Museum) collection in Tring (which was in London up to 1972); 
Lord Rothschild's collection (the largest private collection ever gathered, with 
280,000 skins) was sold to the American Museum of Natural History in New York 
in 1931. 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Altenburg (MMA) 

Info from: N. Hoser, 25 Jul 1996 

address Naturkundliches Museum Mauritianum, 

Postfach 1644, D-04590 Altenburg, Germany 

(visitors address: ParkstraBe 1, D-04600 

telephone and fax #-49-3447-2589 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Norbert 

Hoser (head), Mike Jessat (coll. manager) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 coll. manager 
brief history Founded in 1817 by the 

Naturforschende Gesellschaft des Osterlandes 

zu Altenburg; the coll. came to government of 

Thiiringen in 1945. 
references to history, collections, or types — 
important past bird staff C. L. Brehm, Hugo 

important collections come from — 
approx. nr. of bird skins 3,600 (1,300 species) 
other bird items 100 skeletons, 200 birds in 

alcohol, 200 egg sets, 10,000 biometrical data 

of ringed birds 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 40, 

from local skins, made by private taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Germany, 

East Africa, Australia 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card, computer in preparation 

Amsterdam (ZMA) 

Info from: J. Wattel, 19 Sep 1994, updated by T. 

Prins, 10 Nov 2001 
address Zoologisch Museum, University of 

Amsterdam, Postbus 94766, NL-1090 GT 

Amsterdam, The Netherlands (visitors address: 

Mauritskade 61) 
telephone #-31-20-525-5423/5422, fax #-31-20- 

525-7238, e-mail, 
staff responsible for bird coll. Tineke Prins, 

Drs Cees S. Roselaar 
total staff of bird dept. 1 coll. manager, 1 

information officer, 1 taxidermist 
brief history Founded in 1838 by the Royal 

Zoological Society 'Natura Artis Magistra' ; 

sold to the University of Amsterdam in the 

1930s; the real increase in the coll. did not start 

until the arrival of the first curator of birds in 

references to history, collections, or types 

Roselaar (1990), Prins (1992), Roselaar & 

Prins (2000) 

important past bird staff Max Weber, Max 

Fiirbringer, L. F. de Beaufort, Karel H. Voous, 
Jan Wattel 

important collections come from O. Bamberg, 
W. Barentsz Exped. (W. Bierman, H. van der 
Lee), L. P. le Cosquino de Bussy, G B. 
Dinesen, R. von Dombrowski, A. Eriks (eggs), 
J. A. van Franeker, G A. Frank, H. Griin, G A. 
L. de Haan, A. F. C. A. van Heyst, D. S. Hoedt, 
C. G B. ten Kate, V. A. Khakhlov, J. P. 
Kleiweg de Zwaan, J. de Korte, A. Kovacs, J. 
Laenen, H. Baron Loudon, J. G van Marie, G 
A. Mavromonstakis, S. C. J. W. van 
Musschenbroek, C. J. Neijssel (eggs), C. 
Ragioneri, E. Schmitz, J. A. Sillem, W. G N. 
van der Sleen, R. C. E. G J. Baron Snouckaert 
van Schauburg, R. Tancre, R. von Thanner, C. 
Waldeck, C. J. M. Wertheim 

approx. nr. of bird skins 53,000 (c. 4,000 

other bird items 1,000 skeletons, 500 in 
alcohol, 5,000 egg sets, 8,000 spread wings, 
6,000 microscopic feather preparations, 30,000 
system cards with biometrics of birds received 
dead but not retained in coll. 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 150, 
mainly local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

bird skin collection specialised in Netherlands, 
Palearctic, Indonesia, Netherlands' Antilles; 
petrels, waders, skuas, pigeons, birds-of-prey, 
owls, passerines; c.150 types, c.20 extinct birds 

card or computer system present 80% of skins 
on card, 50% on computer 

Athens/Athinai (ZMUA) 

Info from: A. Legakis, 07 Feb 1995 

address Zoological Museum, Dept. of Biology, 

University of Athens, Panepistimioupolis 

(Kouponia), GR-15784, Athens-621, Greece 
telephone #-30-1-7284609 or 7293993, fax #- 

30-1-7284604, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Prof. Dr A. 

Legakis, G Handrinos (volunteer associate) 
total staff of bird dept. 
brief history Founded 1835 by the Natural 

History Society of Athens; became part of the 

University of Athens in 1858 
references to history, collections, or types 

Lindermayer (1840), Kriiper (1862) 
important past bird staff Th. Kriiper, A. 


C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

important collections come from L. & G. 

approx. nr. of bird skins 2.500 (2.000 species) 
other bird items a few skeletons. 500 eggs, 100 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 5, 

from donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Greece, 

card or computer system present none 

Barcelona (MZBA) 

Into from: E. Garcia, 25 Oct 1996 

address Museu de Zoologia de Barcelona, Apt. 

593. E-08080 Barcelona, Spain (visitors adress: 

Pare de la Ciutadella, Pg. Picasso s/n, E-08003 

telephone #-34-3-3 1 9-69 1 2, or -50 1 , fax #-34- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Eulalia Garcia 

Franquesa, Francesc Uribe 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 coll. manager, 

1 taxidermist 

brief history Founded 1900; owned by the 

Council of Barcelona 
references to history, collections, or types — 
important past bird staff Ignaci de Segarra 
important collections come from Aguilar- 

Amat, Domenech, De La Escalera, L. Gomez 
approx. nr. of bird skins 7,000 incl. 1,000 

mounts (400 species) 
other bird items 1,332 skeletons, 10 in alcohol, 

24 egg sets, 1,137 sound recordings 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 30, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidemist 
bird skin collection specialised in Spain (esp. 

Cataluna), Ecuador, Thailand, Equatorial 

card or computer system present all skins on 

card, part on computer 

Bardejov (SMB) 

Into from: M. Hromada, 4 Feb 1999 
address Sarisskc Museum, Natural History 

Dept., Radnice nam. 13, 08501 Bardejov, 

telephone 00421-935-4722630 fax 00421-935- 

4724966 e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Tomas Jaszay 

(chief Nat. Hist. Dept.) 
total staff of bird dept. I head, 1 coll. manager, 

2 others (for entire Nat. Hist. Dept.) 

brief history Founded in 1956 by Tibor Weisz, 

references to history, collections, or types 

important past bird staff Tibor Weisz, Martin 

important collections come from none 
approx. nr. of bird skins 6,000 (incl c.900 

other bird items 3,550 sterna, 800 egg sets, 

many bird parasites and pellets of owls, a few 

skeletons, birds in alcohol, and nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 30 
bird skin collection specialised in Carpathians, 

Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Cuba, Argentina 
card or computer system present All birds on 

card (including data on measurements etc.), 

over 500 skins from former Czechoslovakia on 


Basel (NMBA) 

Info from: Raffael Winkler, 17 Jan 1995 

address Naturhistorisches Museum, Postfach 

1048, CH-4001 Basel, Switzerland (visitors 

address: Augustinergasse 2) 
telephone #-41-61-266-5500, fax #-41-61-266- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Raffael 

Winkler (head) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 coll. manager, 

0.5 taxidermist 
brief history Founded 1830, when the even 

older private coll. of H. Bernoulli came to the 

references to history, collections, or types 

important past bird staff F. Sarasin, Ernst 

important collections come from Th. 

Andersen, W. Markl, M. Markl, G. Orces, P. 

Sarasin, G. Schneider 
approx. nr. of bird skins 25,000 (3,500 

other bird items 1,800 skeletons, 3,300 skulls, 

many in alcohol 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 150, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Europe 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card, 10% on computer 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Belgrade/Beograd (NHMBEO) 

Info from: Milica Ivovic, 14 Jan 2000 
address Natural History Museum, Njegoseva 

51, P.O. Box 401, 11000 Beograd, Yugoslavia 
telephone #-381-1 1-3442 147, fax #-381-11- 

3442 265, e-mail animig@net.yu 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Milica 

Ivovic (curator of birds), Dr Vaslav Vasic 

(director, bird specialist) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 taxidermist 
brief history Founded 1895, belongs to the 

references to history, collections, or types See 

J. Rasajski (1982) Glasnik prir. Muz. Beogr. 

(Sen B) 37, 107-125 (egg catalogue) 
important past bird staff S. D. Matvejev 
important collections come from O. Reiser 
approx. nr. of bird skins 5,000 (350 species) 
other bird items 90 skeletons, 150 birds in 

spirits, many egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 50, 

from expeditions, buyings, donations, local 

birds skinned by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Serbia, 

former Yugoslavia, Balkan area generally (the 

coll. formed the base for the monographs on 

Yugoslavian birds of Matvejev & Vasic) 
card or computer system present partly on 


Bergen (ZMBN) 

Info from: I. Byrkjedal, 19 Jan 1995, updated 19 
Nov 1999 

address Zoologisk Museum, Vertebrate Section, 
University of Bergen, Museplass 3, N-5007 
Bergen, Norway 

telephone #-47-55-212902/ 05, fax #-47-55- 
321153, e-mail ingvar.byrkjedal@, 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Ingvar 
Byrkjedal, Gunnar Langhelle 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 taxidermist 

brief history Founded 1825 as Bergens 
Museum (a general museum); the first 
vertebrate curator, S. Johnsen, was appointed 
1913. The coll. came to the University of 
Bergen when the latter was founded in 1948 

references to history, collections, or types — 

important past bird staff S. Johnsen, J. F. 

important collections come from — 

approx. nr. of bird skins 6,194 (688 species) 
other bird items 144 in alcohol, 2,554 egg sets, 

1,254 incomplete skeletons, 8,000 nest cards, 1 

type specimen; also 3,400 recent complete 

skeletons, but in separate archaeological 

section with staff of 5 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 200, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Western 

Norway, Passer domesticus (c. 1,000), 

Tetraonidae, Falconiformes, etc. 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card and on computer 

Berlin (ZMB or ISZ) 

Info from: B. Stephan, 26 Nov 1996; S. Frahnert, 

13 Nov 1999 

address Museum fur Naturkunde, Zentralinstitut 

der Humboldt-Universitat, Institut fur 

Systematische Zoologie, Invalidenstrasse 43, 

D- 101 15 Berlin, Germany 
telephone #-49-30-2093-8512, fax #-49-30- 

2093-8528, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Sylke 

Frahnert, Jiirgen Fiebig, Frank Steinheimer 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 taxidermist 
brief history Founded 1810 together with the 

university. Part of the Humboldt-University 
references to history, collections, or types 

Stresemann (1954), Mauersberger (1988), 

Neumann & Mauersberger (1990) 
important past bird staff J. C. Graf von 

Hoffmansegg, J. C. W. Illiger, H. Lichtenstein, 

F. Deppe, J. L. Cabanis, A. Reichenow, H. 
Schalow, P. Matschie, E. Hartert, O. Neumann, 
H. Grote, G Krause, R. Bohm, E. Hesse, W. K. 
H. Peters, E. Stresemann, G. Mauersberger, B. 

important collections come from W. Beick, R. 
A. Berger, R. Bohm, Maison Bouvier, W. 
Bullock coll./Mus. Leverianum (see Wien/ 
Vienna), J. Burgers, C. Baron von der Decken, 
F Deppe, C. G Ehrenberg, Emin Pascha, C. 
Euler, E. F Eversmann, F von Faber, O. Finsch, 

G. A. Fischer, G. W. FreireiB, F. Fiilleborn, F. 
Grabowsky, R. Grauer, J. Gundlach, F. 
Heilfurth, G Heinrich, O. Heinroth, W. 
Hemprich & C. G Ehrenberg, J. M. 
Hildebrandt, C. Hilgert, Exp. J. Holderer, C. 
Huesker, C. Hunstein, H. von Ihering (eggs), A. 
Kaiser, F. H. von Kittlitz, T. Kleinschmidt, A. C. 
& L. Koch, L. Krebs, J. S. Kubary, H. Kiihn, G 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

H. von Langsdorff, R. Mell. J. J. Menden. A. 

Nehrkorn (20,000 eggs). P. S. Pallas. W. Peters. 

C. C. Platen. V. von Plessen. F. W. Riggenbach. 

K. Roehl. E. Ruppell. E. Schafer. R. 

Schomburgk, H. Schubotz, A. Schultze, F. 

Sellow. S. S. Sin. G Stein. A. von Treskow 

(eggs), Voy. Gazelle, H. Weigold. E.Weiske, G 

Zenker. R. Zimmermann 
approx. nr. of bird skins 135.000 ('nearly all 

known species represented') 
other bird items 7.000 mounts. 4.000 skeletons, 

5.000 in alcohol. 55.000 eggs. 1,500 nests; 

2,900 type specimens 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100- 

400. from local birds skinned by own 

taxidermist, birds obtained on expeditions, and 

bird skin collection specialised in worldwide 

(but especially China, Mongolia. Korea, 

Burma, New Guinea, Afrotropics, Central & 

South America, Kerguelen, etc.); virtually all 

families represented 
card or computer system present all skeletons 

and part of egg coll. on card, no skins; alcohol 

specimens on computer 

Bern (NMBE) 

Info from: M. Guntert, 25 Apr 1997, updated 18 

Dec 1997 
address Naturhistorisches Museum Bern, 

BernastraBe 15, CH-3005 Bern, Switzerland 
telephone #-41-31 -350-7222, fax #-4 1 -3 1 -350- 

7499, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Prof. Dr Marcel 

Guntert (director, also responsible for bird 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head and some 

technicians and taxidermists (for the entire 

vertebrate coll.) 
brief history Founded 1802 when the coll. of 

the Rev. Daniel Spriingli was donated to the 

municipality after his death. Still owned by the 

municipality of the Burghers of Bern 
references to history, collections, or types 

Meisner ( 1 824), Guntert et al. (1993) 
important past bird staff Friedrich Meisner, 

Theophil Studer. Emil August Goeldi 
important collections come from E. A. Goeldi, 

J. Gould, J. & P. Henrici (eggs), T. J. Kriiper, 

Gilbert Pochelon (eggs), W. Volz 
approx. nr. of bird skins 13,200, incl. mounts 
other bird items 1,200 skeletons & skulls, 100 

in alcohol. 8.550 egg sets. 410 nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins ? 

bird skin collection specialised in Switzerland, 
Brazil (Goeldi coll., 3,000 skins) 

card or computer system present Skin coll. 
now being computerised, but not quite ready 
by late 2002. See 

Bologna (INFS) 

Info from: N. Baccetti, 5 Apr 2000 

address Museo dell'Istituto Nazionale per la 
Fauna Selvatica, Via Ca' Fornacetta 9, 1-40064 
Ozzano deU'Emilia (Bologna), Italia 

telephone #-39-05 1 -65 1 22 1 8, fax #-39-05 1 - 
796628, e-mail 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Nicola 
Baccetti (head), Dr Lorenzo Serra (researcher), 
Dr Marco Zenatello (coll. manager), Adriano 
De Faveri (taxidermist) 

total staff of bird dept. 4 (see above) 

brief history Founded 1933 as a branch of the 
Zoological Museum of the University of 
Bologna; separated from the latter 1970. Older 
colls, were recently obtained 

references to history, collections, or types 
Toschi (1969), Spagnesi (1993) 

important past bird staff A. Ghigi, A. Toschi 

important collections come from T. Pierotti, G. 
Altobello, E. Garavini 

approx. nr. of bird skins 8,700 (c.500 species), 
excluding c. 1,000 mounts 

other bird items 150 skulls, 150 egg sets, a 
large number of traditional traps and bird- 
catching devices 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 300, 
from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
and private professionals, buying of colls., and 

bird skin collection specialised in Italy 
(7,000), Libya, Ethiopia, Somalia, East Africa, 
Guatemala; Falconiformes, Charadriiformes, 
Strigiformes, Ciconiiformes. Coll. includes 
skins of several rarities (e.g. 31 Falco 
biarmicus feldeggii, 6 Numenius tenuirostris) 

card or computer system present W Palearctic 
species on card and computer, others largely 

note The Museo di Zoologia of the Universita di 
Bologna (MZUB) has a small bird coll. which 
includes the Zaffagnini coll. of Italian birds 
(dating around 1910) and a minor part of the 
Altobello coll.; for a partial catalogue, see 
Marini (1985). The Museo di Anatomia 
Comparata of the same university has 376 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

anatomical specimens and (partial) skeletons of 
161 bird species (Minelli & Taranto 2001) 

Bolton (BOLMG) 

Info from: Kathryn Berry, 23 Nov 2001 
address Bolton Museums, Art Gallery, and 

Aquarium, Le Mans Crescent, Bolton 

(Manchester) BL1 1SE, U.K. 
telephone #-44-1204-332197, 

fax #-44-1204-332241, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Ms Kathryn 

Berry (Keeper of Zoology) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 (see above, for all 

brief history Founded 1883, owned by local 

references to history, collections, or types - 
important past bird staff E. Gorton, A. 

important collections come from B. King, F. G 

Lupton, A. L. W. Mayo, F. Nisbet, F. W. 

Peaples, J. Pennington Thomasson, L. A. 

Pownall, L. Price, J. Wallrow 
approx. nr. of bird skins 5,000 
other bird items 500 (partial) skeletons, 5,500 

egg sets, 180 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins below 

bird skin collection specialised in British Isles; 

some India, Australia, etc. 
card or computer system present all on card, 

in process of being computerised 

Bonn (ZFMK) 

Info from: R. Van den Elzen, 29 Dec 1994, 

updated G. Rheinwald, 21 Jan 2000 
address Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und 

Museum Alexander Koenig, Adenauerallee 

160, D-53113 Bonn, Germany 
telephone #-49-228-9122-230, fax #-49-228- 

216979, e-mail, 


staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Renate Van 

den Elzen, Dr Karl-L. Schuchmann 
total staff of bird sect. 2 scientists, 1 coll. 

manager, 0.25 secretary, 0.25 librarian, up to 6 

others (biol. candidates etc) 
brief history Founded in 1875 as private coll. of 

Alexander Koenig (who had c. 2 1,600 skins at 

his death); the coll. came to the German 
government in 1940 
references to history, collections, or types 

Rheinwald & Van den Elzen (1984), Van den 

Elzen (1986), Schifter & Van den Elzen (1986) 
important past bird staff A. Koenig, O. le Roi, 

A. von Jordans, Fr. Neubaur, J. Steinbacher, G. 

Niethammer, H. E. Wolters, G. Rheinwald 
important collections come from Th. Andersen 

(see Britton 1978, 1981), O. Bamberg, M. O. 

E. Baddeley, H. Bregulla, C. L. & A. E. Brehm 

(3,000 skins, stored separately; remainder of 

Brehm coll. in New York), P. A. Clancey, K. 

Dernedde, M. Eisentraut, Ms M. E. Ferreira, A. 

Fischer, C. Floericke, E. Fliikiger, C. Fritsche, 

H. Geyr von Schweppenburg, H. Grim, J. 

Haffer, M. Harms, W. Hartwig, F. 

Haverschmidt, G. Heinrich, C. Hilgert, W. 

Hoesch, D. von Hoist, G. Hoy, L. von Huyn, A. 

Kaiser, H. Kelm, O. Kleinschmidt coll. (over 

10,000 skins, stored separately), Th. 

Kleinschmidt, Maria Koepcke, J. Klapperich, 

H. Kumerloeve, P. Kunkel, Kiinzel, J. Laenen, 

R. Lossin, W. Makatsch, J. Martens, J. von 

Miiller, A. von Nagy, O. Natorp, R. de Naurois, 

G. Nikolaus, V von Plessen, W. F. H. 

Rosenberg, E. Schafer, G. Schiebel, W. 

Schliiter, G. Schrader, H. Sick, P. Spatz, R. 

Tancre, R. von Thannner, J. Unger, R. 

approx. nr. of bird skins 76,000 incl. 3,500 

mounts (5,000 species) 
other bird items 2,000 skeletons (800 species), 

500 in alcohol, 54-60,000 sets of eggs 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100 

skins and 100 skeletons and birds in alcohol; 

obtained by own taxidermy and by buying of 

bird skin collection specialised in Afrotropics, 

North Africa, Germany, South America, Spain, 

Spitsbergen, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, 

Afghanistan; Trochilidae, Estrildidae, 

Fringillidae, passerines 
card or computer system present eggs, 

skeletons, and spirit specimens all on 

computer, 30% of skins on card, another 30% 

on computer 

Braunschweig (SNMBG) 

Info from: G. Boenigk, 21 Oct 1996 

address Staatliches Naturhistorisches Museum, 

PockelstraBe 10, D-38106 Braunschweig, 


C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

telephone #-49-53 1 -39 1 435 1 . fax #-49-53 1 - 
3914370, e-mail Michaela.Forthuber® 
Staff responsible for bird coll. Michaela 

Forthuber (taxidermist) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head (vacant), 2 

brief history Founded in 1754 as private coll. of 

Herzog Carl 1 von Braunschweig und 

Luneburg: now owned by the government of 

references to history, collections, or types 

Hajmassy (1983). Hinkelmann & Heinze 

(1990). Frisch etal. (1994) 
important past bird staff J. H. Blasius, W. 

Blasius. E. F. von Homeyer. Adolf 

Kleinschmidt. G. Boenigk 
important collections come from M. Bartels, 

A. E. Brehm, C. L. Brehm, F. Dorries, O. 

Finsch. F. Grabowsky, E. Hartert, E. F. von 

Homeyer (8.000 skins), A. Keyserling, H. 

Moschler, A. Nehrkorn (5,000 skins), C. C. 

Platen, H. Raap, J. Riedel, H. von Rosenberg, 

G. Schneider, R. Tancre 
approx. nr. of bird skins 27,000 (3,700 

other bird items 2,800 skeletons, 400 egg sets, 

700 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 30, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

and donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Palearctic, 

Borneo. Sulawesi, etc.; 77 types 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card, none on computer; eggs catalogued (see 

Hajmassy 1983) 

Bremen (UMB) 

Info from: H. Hohmann, 19 Aug 1997 
address Uberseemuseum, Bahnhofplatz 13, D- 

28195 Bremen, Germany 
telephone #-49-42 1-171 347/420438, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Herbert 

Hohmann (head of Natural History Dept.), Dr 

Horst Braun (bird dept.), Klaus Wechsler 

total staff of bird dept. 2 
brief history Founded by the Bremen Natural 

Historv Society, but no proper bird coll. before 

the arrival of G. Hartlaub in 1840s 
references to history, collections, or types 


important past bird staff Gustav Hartlaub, 
Otto Finsch, G. A. Weber, Eberhard Focke, R 

important collections come from Abel, 
Anchieta, Andersen, Andersson, T. Ayres, 
Balfour, A. E. Brehm, Bryant, Capt. Bulger, F. 
M. Chapman, Du Chaillu, Capt. Conrad, A. 
Dietrich, H. Dohrn, Emin Pascha (= Emin Bey, 

E. Schnitzer, A. Schnitzler), Fitzgerald, A. 
Garrettt, Mus. J. C. Godeffroy (duplicates only; 
see Hamburg), Graffe, Grayson, J. Gundlach, J. 
von Haast, Capt. Heinsohn, Heuglin, Hoesch, 
Kirk, Knipper, A. Krause, J. Kubary, Lahusen, 
Meller, Monteiro, Joh. Natterer, Newton, H. S. 
Pel, Capt. Peters, Pollen, E. Riebeck, 
Rosenberg, O. Salvin, H. Schauinsland, B. 
Schmacker, G. P. Schmacker, Schultze, Speke, 

F. Stoliczka, H. T. Ussher, Verreaux, Vierthaler, 
H. O. Wagner, Wahlberg, K. WeiB, Maximilian 
Prinz zu Wied-Neuwied, Paul Herzog von 
Wurttemberg (c.9,000 skins), J. Xantus, 

approx. nr. of bird skins over 20,000 of which 
c.25% mounted 

other bird items ? 

approx. recent annual increase in skins very 

bird skin collection specialised in Afrotropics 
(incl. Sao Tome, Principe, Socotra, 
Madagascar, Mauritius), Central and South 
America, and from many Pacific islands (from 
Hawaii to Pelew and Lord Howe); c.200 type 
specimens; 3,313 specimens lost during World 
War II, including some types 

card or computer system present ? 

Brighton (BMB) 

Info from: Jeremy M. Adams, 23 Nov 2001 
address Booth Museum of Natural History 

(Brighton and Hove Council Museums), 194 

Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 5AA, E Sussex, 

telephone #-44-1273-292782, fax #-44-1237- 

292778, e-mail boothmus@ 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Gerald Legg 

(curator of zoology), Jeremy M. Adams (ass. 

curator natural sciences) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 
brief history Founded Brighton and Hove 

references to history, collections, or types 

Griffith (undated), Knox (1998) 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

important past bird staff E. T. Booth, A. F. 

Griffith, J. G. Dalgliesh, H. Langston 
important collections come from Major 

Bingham Crabbe, L. A. Curtis-Edwards, W. 

Borrer, P. Godman, G M. Henry, A. W. 

Johnson, F. W. Lucas, Lt Col. B. F. Lynn Allen, 

T. J. Monk, J. B. Nichols, M. J. Nicoll, J. P. 

Nunn, T. Parkin, Capt. F. H. Scovil, E. C. 

Stuart Baker, G Vick 
approx. nr. of bird skins 10,000 (incl. 5,000 

other bird items 3,300 (partial) skeletons, 12 

birds in spirits, c. 60,000 eggs (33,334 

catalogued), 262 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 40- 

bird skin collection specialised in worldwide, 

but mainly British 
card or computer system present yes, but for 

only half of the eggs 

Bristol (BCMAG) 

Info from: Tessa Ivison, 6 Dec 2001 
address Bristol Museums and Art Gallery 

Service, Queen's Road, Bristol BS8 1RL, U.K. 
telephone #-44-117-9223598, fax #-44-117- 

9222047, e-mail tessa-ivison@bristol-, 
staff responsible for bird coll. Tessa Ivison 

(curator), Ray Barnett (coll. manager) 
total staff of bird dept. 2 for all zoology (see 

brief history Founded in 1820s; owned by 

Bristol City Council 
references to history, collections, or types - 
important past bird staff - 
important collections come from Greville 

Smyth, Stanley Lewis 
approx. nr. of bird skins 7,500 (incl. 2,500 

other bird items 600 (partial) skeletons, 2,400 

egg sets (6,500 eggs), 300 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins a few 
bird skin collection specialised in SW England 
card or computer system present most skins 

on card, computerisation in progress 

Brno (LMB) 

Info from: Helena Sutorova, 6 Jan 2000 
address Moravske Zemske Muzeum, 

Zoologicesce Oddoleni, Zelny trh. 6, CZ-659 

37 Brno, Czech Rep. 

telephone #-420-(0)5-42321205, fax #-420- 

(0)5-42212792, e-mail, 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Miroslav 

Sebela (head), Dr Helena Sutorova, Ing Vaclav 

Prasek (curators) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 2 curators (see 

above), 2 taxidermists, 1 librarian-secretary (all 

for entire zool. dept.) 
brief history Founded approx. 1816 as 

Franzens-Museum, but includes some older 

specimens from earlier colls.; government- 
references to history, collections, or types 

Schramm (1886), Varga (1973), Kux (1977) 
important past bird staff K. Absolon, E. 

Hachler, J. Hala, V. Capek, F. Chorinsky, F 

Hejl, J. Karasek, Z. Kux, J. Mrazek, K. 

Plachetka, K. Hudec, F. Balat, J. Talsky, J. 

Tesar, E.S. Vraz, F Zdobnitzky 
important collections come from A. Schwab, J. 

Seilern, A. Koch 
approx. nr. of bird skins 8,000 
other bird items ? 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 50- 

60, from own collecting expeditions, gifts, and 

buying of colls. 
bird skin collection specialised in Moravia, 

former Czechoslovakia, Venezuela (see Bull. 

Brit. Orn. CI. 115: 191-192). 
card or computer system present ? 
note also existing are the Zoologicke Depozitar 

of Budisov & Trebic (nearby Brno). 

Brussels/Bruxelles (IRSNB/KBIN) 

Info from: G Lenglet, 06 Jan 1997 
address Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles 
de Belgique/ Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut 
voor Natuurwetenschappen, 29 Rue Vautier/ 
Vautierstraat, B-1000 Bruxelles/Brussel, 
telephone #-32-2-6274349, fax #-32-2-6464433 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Georges 
Lenglet (head of vertebrate dept; there is no 
separate bird dept), Walter Roggeman 
total staff of bird dept. for entire vertebr. dept: 

1 head, 1 taxonomist, 4 technicians 
brief history Founded 1846; owned by the 

Belgian government 
references to history, collections, or types — 
important past bird staff B. Du Bus de 
Gisignies, Baron de Selys-Longchamps, Rene 
& Rudolf Verheyen, A. Prigogine, P. Devillers 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

important collections come from C. Dupond. 
J. Laenen. and many others 
approx. nr. of bird skins 71.295 (3,000 


other bird items main skeletons, many egg 

sets, a few in alcohol, a few nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

and donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Belgium, 

Germany, west Mediterranean countries, North 

Africa, Iran. Himalaya. Central Africa 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card, none yet on computer 

Bucharest/Bucuresti (GAMNH / 

Info from: A. Petrescu, 24 Apr 1996 
address Muzeul de Istorie Naturala / Museum 

of Natural History 'Grigore Antipa', Soseaua 

Kisseleff 1, 79744 Bucuresti, Romania 
telephone ?. e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Angela 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head 
brief history Founded 1848 by Carol 

Wallenstein; now part of the Academy of 

Sciences of Romania 
references to history, collections, or types 

Marinescu etal. (1972, 1985), Papadopol & 

Talpeanu (1986-1987) 
important past bird staff R. von Dombrowski, 

A. Papadopol, M. Talpeanu 
important collections come from E. Holub, P. 

J. Licherdopol, H. Mitrea 
approx. nr. of bird skins 6,000 (2,000 species) 
other bird items 1,000 skeletons, 100 in 

alcohol, 1,200 egg sets, 250 nests, 1 1,600 food 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 50, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist, 

expeditions, and exchanges 
bird skin collection specialised in 'many bird 

card or computer system present all skins on 

card, none on computer 

Budapest (HNHM) 

Info from: A. Bankovics. 18 Jan 2000 
address Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum/ Hungarian 
Natural History Museum, Dept. of Zoology, 
Baross utca 13. H-1088 Budapest, Hungary 

telephone #-36-1-2101 075/ 2 1 05044 fax #-36- 

1-1171669 e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Attila 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 taxidermist 

(partly retired) 
brief history Founded in the early 1800s, and 

the bird coll. was one of the largest in Europe 

in the early 1950s; however, it was destroyed 

in 1956, though now gradually rebuilding. A 

governmental museum 
references to history, collections, or types A 

catalogue in preparation 
important past bird staff J. Frivaldszki, S. J. 

Petenyi, G. Madarasz, N. Vasvari, K. Warga, J. 

Gerschik, L. Horvath 
important collections come from G. Almasy, A. 

Baldi, P. Beretzk, G. Csorba, C. Floericke, E. 

Frivaldszky, A. Keve (= E. Kleiner), L. Kovats, 

J. Xantus, etc, but colls, of many of these 

destroyed in 1956 
approx. nr. of bird skins 70,000 by 1956, when 

destroyed; now 12,500 (1,200 species) 
other bird items approx. 1,700 skeletons (200 

species), 1,400 egg sets (250 species), 120 

recent annual increase in skin coll. 50, from 

own expeditions, donations, local birds 

skinnned by own taxidermist, etc. 
bird skin collection specialised in now mainly 

Hungary, Brazil, Tanzania, Argentina, 

Australia, Vietnam, Korea, Mongolia; before 

1956, many from Sudan, C & S America, C 

Asia, New Guinea, etc. 
card or computer system present Partly on 

card; available on computer by 2001 

Cambridge (CUMZ) 

Info from: A. E. Friday, July 1996; update 19 

Nov 1999 by M. Brooke 
address University Museum of Zoology, 

Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, U.K. 
telephone #-44-1223-336659, fax #-44-1223- 

336676, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Michael de L. 

Brooke, Ray Symonds 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 coll. manager 
brief history Founded 1815 as part of 

Cambridge University 
references to history, collections, or types 

Salvin (1882), Gadow (1910), Benson (1970- 

1971, 1972, 1999) 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

important past bird staff H. E. Strickland, H. 
Gadow, Alfred Newton, O. Salvin, C. W. 
Benson, W. H. Thorpe 

important collections come from Capt. Askew, 
E. Blyth, T. E. Buckley, Cambridge 
Philosophical Society, J. S. Constancia, F. Day, 
W. B. Farr, H. W. Feilden, P. H. Gosse, J. 
Gould, F. H. H. Guillemard, J. H. Gurney, G. 
D. Haviland, J. E. Hepburn, B. H. Hodgson, T. 
Horsfield, C. Hose, A. von Hiigel, W. Jardine, 
T. C. Jerdon, J. J. Lister, Edw. Newton, J. 
Richardson, P. J. Selby, A. Smith, S. Stevens, 
H. E., A., & N. C. Strickland coll. (c.6,000 
skins), W. Swainson, L. W. Wiglesworth, S. B. 
Wilson, J. Wolley egg coll. (see book Ootheca 

approx. nr. of bird skins 40,000 ('most species 

other bird items 2,200 skeletons, some in 
alcohol, c. 8,000 egg sets 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 20, 
from donations 

bird skin collection specialised in Western 
Palearctic, South Africa, Madagascar, 
Mauritius, Seychelles, India, Borneo, 
Sulawesi, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, 
California, eastern North America, Jamaica, 
Barbados, Central America; includes 104 skins 
of extinct and endangered birds (31 Hawaii, 19 
Malagasy region, 16 New Zealand area, 13 
West Indies), c.620 types 

card or computer system present all skeletons 
on computer and website (; all 
skins on card, most on computer (for internal 
use only) 

Cardiff (NMWC) 

Info from: P. Howlett, 1996 

address National Museum & Galeries of Wales, 

Dept of BioSyB, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 

3NP, Wales, U.K. 
telephone #-44-1222-397951, fax #-44-1222- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Peter Howlett 

(curator of vertebrates) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 coll. manager 
brief history Founded in the 1880s by the 

Trustees of the Cardiff Museum; now belongs 

to the government 
references to history, collections, or types 

important past bird staff P. J. Morgan 

important collections come from Hewitt, 

approx. nr. of bird skins 20,000 (2,000 

other bird items 500 skeletons, 8,000 egg sets, 

200 nest, 40,000 biometrical data of ringed 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 150, 

from local casualties 
bird skin collection specialised in Wales, 

Britain, Asia, Australasia 
card or computer system present less than 

50% of skins on card, none on computer 

Coburg (NMC) 

Info from: Dr Werner Korn, 28 Nov 2001 
address Naturkunde-Museum Coburg, Park 6, 

D-96450 Coburg, Germany 
tel #-49-9561-808111, fax #-49-9561-808140, e- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Werner Korn 

(head), Ulrike Neumann (taxidermist) (both for 

all zoology) 
total staff of bird dept. 2 (see above) 
brief history Founded as private coll. in about 

1830 by the later Duke Ernst II von Sachsen- 

Coburg und Gotha and his brother Prince 

Albert, openend to the public in 1844; now 

belongs to the Landesstiftung Coburg (Stiftung 

des Offentlichen Rechts). 
references to history, collections, or types 

Korn et al. (1993) 
important past bird staff H. von Boetticher 
important collections come from C. L. Brehm, 

Th. von Heuglin, W. Baldamus, Ferdinand I of 

Sachsen Coburg-Gotha (King of Bulgaria) 
approx. nr. of bird skins 14,500 (of which 

14,000 mounted) 
other bird items 15 skeletons, 3,000 egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins highly 

bird skin collection specialised in worldwide, 

but largely historical; many Trochilidae 
card or computer system present most on 

card, now revised and completed 

Coimbra (MZCoimbra) 

Info from: I. Carreira, 12 May 1997 
address Museu de Historia Natural-Museu 
Zoologico, Faculdade de Ciencias e Tecnologia 
da Universidade de Coimbra, Largo Marques 
de Pombal, 3000 Coimbra, Portugal 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

telephone #-351-39-34729. fax #-351-39-26798 
stall responsible for bird coll. Dra Isabel 

Machado Carrara 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head 
brief history Founded 1775 by Domingos 

Vandelli; now part of Coimbra University 
references to history, collections, or types 

Themido (1933), Carreira (1984-1986, 1990) 
important past bird staff Albino Giriddes, 

Paulino de Oliveira. A. A. Themido 
important collections come from Nelo 

Beeyner. Luis de Carvalho, Teodoro J. Cruz, 

King Pedro V. Lopez Vieire 
approx. nr. of bird skins 3,104 (1,092 species) 
other bird items 44 skeletons, 1,129 egg sets, 

238 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins a few, 

mainly donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Portugal, 

Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Sao Tome, 

card or computer system present all skins on 

card, part on computer 

Copenhagen (ZMUC) 

Info from: J. Fjeldsa, 11 Jul 1996, and J. Fjeldsa 

&C. Rahbek, 14 Nov 2001 
address Zoologisk Museum, K0benhavns 

Universitet, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 

Kobenhavn-0, Denmark 
telephone #-45-3532-1023/ 1000, fax #-45- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Prof. Dr Jon 

Fjeldsa (curator-in-charge), Prof. Dr Carsten 

Rahbek (curator), Jan Bolding Kristensen (coll. 

total staff of bird dept. 2 scientists, 1 coll. 

manager/taxidermist, 3 others (at staff of 

ringing centre) 
brief history Founded 1 805 by J. Reinhardt; 

now part of Copenhagen University/ 
references to history, collections, or types 

Preuss & Aaris-S0rensen (1981) 
important past bird staff J. Reinhardt, Herluf 

Winge, P. Hald-Mortensen, F. Salomonsen 
important collections come from T Andersen, 

W. Beick, J. Fjeldsa, Galathea Exp., K. & S. 

Harold Olsen, A. M. Hemmingsen, Hans 

Johansen, Hermann Johansen, N. Krabbe, P. W. 

Lund & J. Reinhardt, H. Moschler, Noona Dan 

Exp., A. M. Ollala. K. Paludan, E. L. Schi0ler, 

J. Waterstradt 

approx. nr. of bird skins 97,000, incl. 5,000 
mounts (5,500 species) 

other bird items 14,000 skeletons (1,100 
species), 10,000 in alcohol (800 species), over 
20,000 buffered tissue samples (over 2,000 
species), 17,000 egg sets 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 200- 
300 (sometimes much more), from local birds 
skinned by own taxidermist and own 

bird skin collection specialised in Denmark, 
Greenland, Iceland, Fenno-Scandia, Brazil, 
Ecuador, Beidaihe (China), West Siberia, Iran, 
Afghanistan, Andes, south-west Pacific, 
Liberia, Tanzania, and many more 

card or computer system present 90% of skins 
on card; tissue coll. on computer; South 
American and Afrotropical coll. on computer 
(incl. also many non-skin records) 

Dresden (SMTD) 

Info from: S. Eck, 18 Mar 1997 

address Staatliches Museum ftir Tierkunde, 

Konigsbrucker Landstrasse 159, D-01109 

Dresden, Germany 
telephone #-49-351-8926-344 
staff responsible for bird coll. Siegfried Eck 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head 
brief history Founded 1728, but the oldest bird 

is now from 1810; part of the coll. was 

destroyed in 1940-1945. Owned by the 

government of Sachsen 
references to history, collections, or types 

Meise (1929), Eck (1970, 1982-1985) 
important past bird staff H. G. L. 

Reichenbach, A. B. Meyer, L. Wiglesworth, A. 

Jacobi, W. Meise, R. Reichert 
important collections come from U. Bahrmann 

(7,180 birds and many partial skeletons), F. 

Brtiggemann, B. Berg, O. Burger, C. W. 

Cursham, F. von Faber, A. P. Farafontov, G. A. 

Frank, B. Geisler, H. Griin, H. Gude, W. 

Gueinzius, J. W. B. Gunning, B. Hantzsch, F. P. 

Heilfurth, H. W. Henshaw, M. Hinsche, C. 

Hunstein, V. A. Khakhlov, J. Klapperich, O. 

Kleinschmidt (coll. # 2; 1st in Bonn), Th. 

Kriiper, J. Kubary, Kuschel (eggs), L. Laglaize, 

W. Makatsch (eggs), McGregor, J. J. Menden, 

H. Moschler, S. C. J. W. van Musschenbroek, 

H. Palmer, C. & R. Ragioneri, C. Ribbe, J. 

Riedel, C. Rolle, H. von Rosenberg, F. & P. 

Sarasin, Schierbrandt, R. Schlegel, C. 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Schneider, C. Wahnes, H. Weigold (Stotzner 

Exp.), E. Weiske 
approx. nr. of bird skins 70,000 
other bird items many skeletons, a few in 

alcohol, 60,000 eggs, many nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 150, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

and by buying of colls. 
bird skin collection specialised in Germany 

(esp. east), Sweden, Iceland, Spain, Italy; 

Indonesia (esp. Wallacea & New Guinea), 

Philippines, China (Sichuan, Manchuria), 

Hawaii, E & S Africa, West Siberia, etc. 

Includes 31 skins and mounts and 19 eggs of 

extinct birds (24 species) 
card or computer system present part of skins 

on card system (including birds destroyed 

during the war) 

Edinburgh (RSM/ NMSE) 

Info from: R. McGowan 06 Feb 1995 & 16 Nov 

2001, A. Kitchener 13 Nov 1999 
address National Museums of Scotland, Royal 

Museum of Scotland, Dept. Geology & 

Zoology, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 

1JF, Scotland, U.K. 
telephone (DDI) #-44-131-247-4240, fax #-44- 

131-220-4819, e-mail,, 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Andrew C. 

Kitchener (head of birds and mammal dept, 

mostly working on mammals), Robert (Bob) 

McGowan (curator of birds) 
total staff of bird dept. 0.3 head, 1 curator, 0.3 

brief history Founded c. 1815 by Edinburgh 

University; both government-owned from 

references to history, collections, or types 

Stenhouse (1924-1930), McGowan (1988), 

Herman et al (1990) 
important past bird staff A. S. Clark, W. Eagle 

Clark, J. H. Stenhouse, I. H. J. Lyster 
important collections come from L. Adams, E. 

Baxter, W. Bullock coll./Mus. Leverianum (see 

Wien/Vienna), R A. Clancey, L. Dufresne, T. R 

Dutton (eggs), Edinburg Univ. Museum, J. A. 

Harvie-Brown, Annie C. Jackson, W. Jardine, 

R R King, Parry, J. Richardson, L. Rintoul, J. 

C. Ross, Scot. natl. Antarctic Exp., H. 

Seebohm, W. Serle, A. Smith, R. A. L. & V. G. 

L. Van Someren, C. Sturt, R. G Wardlaw- 

Ramsay, H. Whistler, J. I. S. Whitaker 

approx. nr. of bird skins 63,000 (6,000 

other bird items 4,000 skeletons, 33,000 egg 

sets, a few in alcohol 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 200, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

and donations 
bird skin collection specialised in 'worldwide 

(c.50% Palearctic), all families'. E.g. South 

Africa, Tristan da Cunha, Australia, Arctic 

card or computer system present Only part of 

egg coll. on computer 

Exeter (EXEMS or RAMM) 

Info from: David Bolton, 4 Dec 2001 
address Royal Albert Memorial Museum and 

Art Gallery, Queen Street, Exeter, U.K. 
telephone #-44-1392-665358, fax #-44-1392- 

665858, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr David Bolton 

(Curator of Natural History 
total staff of bird dept. 1 (for all natural 

brief history Founded 1865 by Sir Stafford 

Northcote as a memorial to Prince Albert, 

opened 1868; now owned by local 

governement (Exeter City Council) 
references to history, collections, or types 

Lowe (1939), Howes (1969) 
important past bird staff W. S. M. D'Urban, F 

W. L. Ross, R. P. Nicholls, C. Blackie, A. B. 

Gay, W. P. Lowe 
important collections come from R. H. Buller, 

W. T. H. Chambers, Cumming, Major-General 

Elliot, J. Gilbert, J. Gould, Hollis, Maxwell, Sir 

Wilfred Peek, Pershouse, Rolle, Mrs H. N. 

Rowan, General W. N. T. Smee, Sir John 

approx. nr. of bird skins 8,500 (mainly 

other bird items 200 (partial) skeletons, 50 in 

liquid, 1,000 egg sets, 100 nests, 100s of 

wings, heads, etc. 
approx. recent annual increase in skins below 

bird skin collection specialised in England (esp 

Devon) and USA, but in general worldwide; 

includes various types and an impressive 

number of extinct species (e.g. 9 each of 

Ectopistes migratorius and Conuropsis 


C.S. Roscljjr 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

card or computer system present Part on card, 
computerised database in progress 

Florence/Firenze( MZUF) 
Into from: A. Nistri, 26 Jul 1996 
address Museo Zoologico de 'La Specola', 

Sezione del Museo di Storia Naturale , 

Universita degli Studi di Firenze, Via Romana 

17. 1-50125 Firenze. Italia 
telephone #-39-055-2288261, fax #-39-055- 

225325. e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Marta 

Poggesi (coordinator of vertebrate section), Dr 

Annamaria Nistri (coll. manager), Dr Anna 

Altobelli. Fausto Barbagli. Dr Silke Jantra 

(volunteer associates) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head. 1 coll. manager 
brief history Founded 1775 as private coll. of 

Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Lorraine; now 

belongs to the University of Firenze 
references to history, collections, or types 

Giglioli (1886-1907), De Germiny (1936- 

1938), Violani etal. (1984), Poggesi & 

Buracchi (1990), Voipio (1990) 
important past bird staff Carlo Passerini, E. H. 

important collections come from Bessi, 

Dainelli, Delia Gherardesca, Giglioli coll. 

(c.4300 skins), Griffoli, Ridolfi, T. Salvadori, 

Tozzi, Voy. Magenta 
approx. nr. of bird skins 18,000 (3,000 

other bird items 2.500 skeletons, 300 in 

alcohol, 350 egg sets, 100 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 150, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist, 

buying of colls., and donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Italy, South 

America, Ethiopia, Somalia, East Africa. Coll. 

includes skins of 164 extinct and endangered 

card or computer system present skins partly 

on card and computer 

Frankfurt am Main (SMF for colls, 

FLS in general) 

Info from: D. S. Peters, 17 Jan 1995; update G 

Mayr 14 Nov 1999 
address Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum 

Scnckenberg, Senckenberganlage 25, D-60325 

Irankfiirt am Main I, Germany 

telephone #-49-69-7542348, fax #-49-69- 
746238, e-mail 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Gerald Mayr, 
Dr D. Stefan Peters (retired, volunteer) 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 secretary, 1-2 

brief history Founded 1818-1821 by the 
Senckenbergische Naturforschende 
Gesellschaft (SNG), but based on older coll. of 
B. Meyer; still privately owned by SNG 

references to history, collections, or types 
Hartert (1891), Hilgert (1908), Steinbacher 
(1949, 1954, 1959, 1967), Mertens and 
Steinbacher (1955), Peters (1992) 

important past bird staff E. Riippell, P. J. 
Cretzschmar, T. Erckel, A. Koch, O. 
Kleinschmidt, E. Hartert, C. Hellmayr, H. von 
Boetticher, J. Steinbacher 

important collections come from O. Baron, F. 
Behn, H. H. C. L. Graf von Berlepsch (donated 
private coll. of 55,000 skins), G. Cherrie, 
Dobel, H. Dohrn, C. F. von Erlanger (donated 
c. 12,600 birds), G. W. FreyreiB, G. & O. 
Garlepp (4,000 birds), J. von Haast, B. Hagen, 
W. Hoesch, A. von Homeyer (eggs), G. Hopke, 
H. von Ihering, J. Kalinowski, F. H. von 
Kittlitz, A. Koch, K. L. Koch, J. S. Kubary, C. 
F. H. von Ludwig, B. Meyer, E. Peters, G. 
Radde, B. Schmacker, H. Schubotz, A. 
Schultze, J. Unger 

approx. nr. of bird skins 90,000 (c. 6-7,000 

other bird items 4,000 skeletons, 3,375 in 
alcohol, 5,050 egg sets, many fossils 

approx. recent annual increase in skin/ 
skeleton coll. 600, from local birds prepared 
by own taxidermist and buying of colls. 

bird skin collection specialised in South 
America, Germany, northern and eastern 
Africa, Middle East, Indonesia, New Zealand; 

card or computer system present most skins 
on card (except Trochilidae), spirit and 
skeleton colls, on computer 

Fribourg (MHNF) 

Info from: Dr Andre Fasel, 10 Dec 2001 
address Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 

Fribourg, Chemin du Musee 6, CH-1700 

Fribourg, Switzerland 
telephone #-41-26-3009040, fax #-41-26- 

3009760, e-mail 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Andre Fasel 

(director) (andre. fasel @, Emanuel 

total staff of bird dept. — 
brief history Founded 1823 with the donation 

of the coll. of C.-A. Fontaine to the Fribourg 

Canton; owned by the Fribourg government 
references to history, collections, or types 

Fasel (1998) (history) 
important past bird staff C. de Buman, M. 

Musy, O. Biichi 
important collections come from J. de Buman, 

R. de Boccard, Pere A. Buch 
approx. nr. of bird skins 5,300 skins (of which 

4,800 mounted) 
other bird items 1,200 skeletons and skulls, 

515 egg sets, and 130 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100- 

bird skin collection specialised in Switzerland, 

SE China, Vietnam, Ethiopia 
card or computer system present Most bird 

items on computer 

Geneva/Geneve (MHNGn) 

Info from F. J. Baud, 06 Dec 1999 
address Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 

Geneve, Dpt. de Mammalogie et Ornithologie, 

case postale 6434, CH-1211 Geneve 6, Suisse/ 

Switzerland (visitors address: 1 Route de 

telephone #-41 -(0)22-4 186302, fax #-41 -(0)22- 

4186301, e-mail francois.baud@ mhn.ville- 
staff responsible for collection Dr Francois J. 

Baud (curator), Dr M. Ruedi (research officer) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 2 coll. 

managers, 2 taxidermist (these for combined 

bird-mammal dept.; additional staff shared by 

whole museum) 
brief history Founded in c.1850 by the Societe 

de Physique et d'Histoire Naturelle de Geneve; 

now belongs to the municipality (Ville de 

references to history, collections, or types 

Baud (1976, 1977, 1978), Weber (1985) 
important past bird staff Victor Fatio, T. 

Horsfield, De Saussure 
important collections come from T. Horsfield 

(Java), W. Parsons (Philippines), K. von 

Sneidern (Colombia), A. Kovacs (Argentina), 

A. Vaucher (Trochilidae) 

approx. nr. of bird skins 25,000 

other bird items c.200 skeletons, 8,500 egg 

sets, 1,000 bodies in alcohol (of which the 

skins are in the coll.) 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 250, 

from own expeditions and local bird skinned 

by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Switzerland, 

Java, Philippines, Colombia, Argentina; 

card or computer system present Over 60% of 

skins on computer 


Info from: Giuliano Doria, 16 Dec 1999 
address Museo Civico di Storia Naturale 

'Giacomo Doria', Via Brigata Liguria 9, 1- 

16121 Genova (Genoa), Italy 
telephone #-39-(0) 10-564 567 or 582 171, fax 

#-39-(0)10-566 319 
staff responsible for collection Dr Giuliano 

total staff of bird dept. 1 curator (see above, 

for all animals except insects), 1 taxidermist 

(for all vertebrates) 
brief history Founded in 1867 when the private 

coll. of Marchese Giacomo Doria was given to 

City of Genova; still in the possession of the 

Municipality of Genova 
references to history, collections, or types 

Arbocco et al. (1979, 1987), Violani et al. 

(1979, 1984), Capocaccia & Poggi (1982) 
important past bird staff A. T. Salvadori 

(volunteer from Torino, but described 283 new 

taxa from the coll.) 
important collections come from G. Doria, O. 

Beccari, L.M. D'Albertis, E. Modigliani, L. 

Loria, O. Antinori, E. Ruspoli, V Bottego, L. 

approx. nr. of bird skins 30,000 (incl mounts) 
other bird items 60 mounted skeletons, 400 

sterna, 100 jars with many specimens in spirits, 

100 egg sets, 100 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 30, 

from donations and local birds skinned by own 

bird skin collection specialised in Italy, North 

Africa, Ethiopia, Cape Verde Is. (30 Alauda 

razae\), Gulf of Guinea islands (Principe, etc.), 

Burma, Indonesia, New Guinea. Includes 104 

skins of extinct and endangered birds and types 

or type series of 317 (sub)species. 

C.S. RoscLuir 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

card or computer system present All on card, 
none on computer 

Glasgow (GLAMG) 

Info from: Richard Sutcliffe, 28 Nov 2001 
address Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum. 

Kelvin Grove. Glasgow G3 8AG, U.K. 
telephone #-44- 1 4 1 -2872660. fax #-44- 141- 

2872690. e-mail richard. sutcliffe® 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Richard 

Sutcliffe (Curator of Science) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 (for all zoology) 
brief history Founded 1870; owned by Glasgow 

City Council 
references to history, collections, or types - 
important past bird staff C. E. Palmar, J. 

MacNaught Campbell, Darryl Mead 
important collections come from R. Arbuthnot 

(eggs), M. A. Black, H. Brown, Major Christie, 

Capt. H. L. Cochrane, Capt. D. Cross (eggs), P. 

Hay (eggs), P. Leys, Sir James Lumsden, Col J. 

M. D. Mackenzie (eggs), W. E. Praeger, J. 

Ramsay, A. B. Stewart 
approx. nr. of bird skins 6,400 (incl. 900 

other bird items 250 (partial) skeletons, 10,000 

eggs, 100 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins a few 

bird skin collection specialised in Scotland, 

but also includes quite a number of exotic birds 
card or computer system present Most on 


Gorlitz (SMNG) 

Info from: Hermann Ansorge, 30 Nov 2001 
address Staatliches Museum fur Naturkunde 

Gorlitz, Postfach 300154, D-02806 Gorlitz, 

Germany (visitors address: Am Museum 1, D- 

02826 Gorlitz). 
telephone #-49-3581-47600/ -4760400, fax #- 

49-3581-4760101, e-mail smng.ansorge@t- 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Hermann 

Ansorge (head of vertebrate dept.), Diana 

Jeschke (taxidermist) 
total staff of bird dept. 2 (for entire vertebrate 

dept: see above) 
brief history Founded 1823 as Museum of the 

Naturforschenden Gesellschaft zu Gorlitz, with 

important enlargement by the donation of the 

colls, of J. von Zittwitz and H. Boetsscher in 

references to history, collections, or types 

Ansorge (1987) 
important past bird staff J. G. Krezschmar, R. 

Tobias, J. W. Stolz 
important collections come from Niesky 

Padagogium, A. R. von Loebenstein (eggs), 

Vogelschutzwarte Neschwitz 
approx. nr. of bird skins 6,800 (incl. 5,500 

other bird items 1,250 (partial) skeletons, 1,750 

egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins a few 
bird skin collection specialised in worldwide, 

e.g. with Ara tricolor, but primarily the Lausitz 

area of E Germany 
card or computer system present all on card, 

part on computer 

Gothenburg/Goteborg (GNM) 

Info from: Goran Nilson, 27 Nov 2001 
address Naturhistoriska Museet, Box 7283, S- 

40235 Goteborg, Sweden (visitors address: 

Slottsskogen, nr. Linneplatsen) 
telephone #-46-31-7752430, fax #-46-31- 

129807, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Goran Nilson 
total staff of bird dept. 1 
brief history Founded 1833; owned by the local 

references to history, collections, or types 

important past bird staff Sven Mathiasson 
important collections come from K. Kolthoff 

and others 
approx. nr. of bird skins 25,000, incl. 3,548 

other bird items 8,000 skeletons and skulls, 

10,000 egg sets, a few birds in alcohol 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100 
bird skin collection specialised in Sweden 

(9,21 1 skins), remainder exotic; many groups 

represented, e.g. 250 Cygnus spec. All on 

computer: see 

Grenoble (MHNGr) 

Info from: A. Fayard, 9 Jul 2000 
address Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 
Grenoble, B.P 3022, 38816 Grenoble Cedex 1, 
France (visitors adress: 1, rue Dolomieu) 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

telephone #-33- (0)4 76 44 05 35, (portable) #- 

33-(0)6 82 86 92 31, fax #-33-(0)4 76 44 65 

99, e-mail museum-histoire-naturelle@ville-, web-site http://www.viHe- 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Armand 

Fayard (head curator), Anne Medard-Blondel 

(adj. curator) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 adj. curator, 1 

taxidermist, 1 other 
brief history Founded in 1847; now owned by 

Ville de Grenoble 
references to history, collections, or types 

Langrand (1985, 1986a,b) 
important past bird staff - 
important collections come from Clot-Bey 

(1842-1844), Bouteille (1847-1881), Vitalis 

(1899), Bailly (1902), Blanchet (1921), L. 

Lavauden (1935), Fleurian (1937), L. Leger. 
approx. nr. of bird skins 9,000 
other bird items 830 eggs, 30 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins ?, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist, 

donations, and buying of colls. 
bird skin collection specialised in SE France, 

Tunisia, Egypt (71 mounts of Clot-Bey), 

Afrotropics (especially Mauritania to Chad), 

Madagascar (e.g. 269 mounts), etc. 
card or computer system present part on a 

card system, nothing on computer 

Halberstadt (MH) 

Info from: B. Nicolai, 27 Jun 1996 

address Museum Heineanum, Domplatz 37, D- 

38820 Halberstadt, Germany 
telephone #-49-3941-551460, fax #-49-3941- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Bernd 

Nicolai (head), Rudiger Holz 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 2 taxidermists, 

1 librarian 
brief history Founded in 1830 as private coll. 

of F. Heine Sr.; the Heine coll. was presented 

to Stadt Halberstadt in 1907 when A. 

Hemprich became director 
references to history, collections, or types 

Cabanis, in part with Heine (1850-1863); 

Busch (1957), Handtke (1974), Kummer 

(1993), Nicolai (1993), Nicolai et al. (1994) 
important past bird staff F. Heine Sr., F Heine 

Jr., J. Cabanis, C. Miiller, F. Tiemann, A. 

Hemprich, R. Busch, H. von Boetticher, K. 

Handtke, H. Konig 

important collections come from J. G W. 

Brandt, G A. Frank, M. Hiibner (eggs), J. 

Kummer (eggs), Mus. Berlin (doublets), W. 

Schluter, Maison Verreaux, K. WeiB 
approx. nr. of bird skins 18,000 (4,500 

other bird items 2,000 skeletons, 6,000 egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

and expeditions 
bird skin collection specialised in Germany 

(3,000 skins), many from a wide scatter of 

localities elsewhere; Trochilidae (1,800 skins) 
card or computer system present all birds 

received since 1965 on card, none on computer 

Halle (IZH) 

Info from: Dietrich Heidecke, 26 Nov 2001 

address Institut fur Zoologie, Zoologische 
Sammlung, Martin-Luther-Universitat, 
Postfach Universitat, D-06099 Halle am Saale, 
Germany (visitors address: Domplatz 4, D- 
06108 Halle/S.) 

telephone #-49-345-5526455, fax #-49-345- 
5527152, e-mail heidecke@ zoologie. uni- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr D. Heidecke 
(Kustos), H.-J. Altner (taxidermist) (both for 
all vertebrates) 

total staff of bird dept. See above 

brief history Founded in 1769 as natural history 
cabinet by J. F. G Goldhagen, but the oldest 
birds in existence now are those of C. L. 
Nitzsch (from about 1815); the coll. increased 
strongly after the arrival of Burmeister as 
director in 1837. Now part of the University of 
Halle- Wittenberg 

references to history, collections, or types 
Taschenberg (1894), Herre (1940), Piechocki 
(1971) (history); Boetticher (1940) (types); 
Piechocki (1958, 1968), Piechocki & Bolod 
(1972), Piechocki et al. (1981-1982) 
(Mongolian and Manchurian colls.) 

important past bird staff J. R. Forster, C. L. 
Nitzsch, K. H. C. Burmeister, C. G A. Giebel, 
O. Taschenberg, L. Briihl, L. Ludwig, A. 
Remane, H. von Boetticher, J. O. Hiising, R. 

important collections come from C. L. & A. E. 
Brehm, Brandt, Brendel, F. W. Junghuhn, G A. 
Frank, G Hartlaub, A. von Humboldt, A. V. 
Ladygin, J. F. Naumann, R. A. Philippi, W. 

C.S. Roseiaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Schluter, M. SchSnwetter ( 19,300 eggs of 

3,839 species). M. Stubbe 
approx. nr. of bird skins 9,063 (incl. 2,100 

mounts o\' I ,900 species) 
other bird items 6,300 (partial) skeletons, 

20,000 eggs, over 100 nests 
approx. reeent annual increase in skins 20- 

bird skin collection specialised in Germany, 

Mongolia. Kamchatka, NE China, Cuba (over 

900 birds), S America (e.g. Chile, Argentina); 

endangered Palearctic birds of prey, owls, and 

cranes (esp. skeletons); types of Nitzsch, 

Burmeister and Giebel 
card or computer system present all on card; 

60 c /c of skins on computer 

Hamburg (ZMH) 

Info from: H. Hoerschelmann, Aug. 1996 
address Zoologisches Institut und Zoologisches 

Museum, Universitat Hamburg, Martin-Luther- 

King-Platz 3, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany 
telephone #-49-40-4123-3860, fax #-49-40- 

4123-3937. e-mail fb6a071@ zoologie.uni- 
staff responsible for bird coll. Kordula 

Bracker, H. Hoerschelmann (retired) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 coll. manager, 1 

brief history Founded 1 843; large parts of the 

coll. were destroyed in 1943. Now part of 

University of Hamburg 
references to history, collections, or types ? 
important past bird staff A. Reichenow, G. H. 

Martens, H. & H. Bolau, F. Stuhlmann, N. 

Peters. W. Meise, C. Kosswig, E. Focke 
important collections come from F. Dorries, G. 

A. Fischer, L. Gomez, Hagenbeck Zoo, G. 

Hartmann, G. Heidemann, G. Heinrich, Heinze 

el al.. D. von Hoist, H. Kelm, G A. von 

Maydell, Mus. Godeffroy (J. C. Godeffroy; 

Amalie Dietrich, A. Garrett, E. Graffe, Capt. 

Heinsohn, F Hubner, Th. Kleinschmidt, J. S. 

Kubary, A. Tetens; types and 'originals' to 

Hamburg in 1886, duplicates to Bremen), H. 

Mbschler, D. S. Rabor, Prof. Rockstroh, H. 

Schubotz, A. Schultze, W. Schulz, G. Siemssen, 

W. Trense, K. WeiB, P. Wyrwich 
approx. nr. of bird skins 30,000 (2,500 species) 
other bird items 4,000 skeletons, 2,000 in 

alcohol. 2.000 egg sets, feather-sets of 20,000 


approx. recent annual increase in skins 400, 
from local birds skinned by own taxidermist, 
buying of colls., and donations 

bird skin collection specialised in Germany, 
Sao Tome, Russian Far East, China, Angola, 
East Africa, India, Pacific, Peru, Guatemala, 
Philippines, New Guinea, Australia, Bismarck 
Archipelago; feathers of West Palearctic birds; 
Pica pica (2,000 skins Kelm coll.). 

card or computer system present all skins on 
card; computerising of card system in 

Hanover/Hannover (NLMH) 

Info from: Chr. Schilling, 21 Feb 2002 
address Niedersachsisches Landesmuseum, 

Naturkunde-Abteilung, Willy-Brandt-Allee 5, 

D-30169 Hannover, Germany. 
telephone #-49-5 1 1-9807-827, fax #- fax #-49- 

511-9807-880, e-mail naturkunde© 
staff responsible for bird coll. Frau Dr 

Christiane Schilling (for entire Bioscience 

total staff of bird dept. 1 (see above) 
brief history Founded c.1850, owned by 

Niedersachsen government. 
references to history, collections, or types 

none (but unpublished catalogues for the 

Kirchhoff and King George colls, available) 
important past bird staff — 
important collections come from King George 

V, H. Kirchhoff (formerly in the Gottingen 

Museum), H. Domeier (originally 40,000 eggs, 

many from the Neotropics) 
approx. nr. of bird skins 9,000 
other bird items 75 skeltons, 29,000 eggs, 133 

approx. recent annual increase in skins minor 

bird skin collection specialised in regional 

avifauna (Niedersachsen), but also from Africa, 

Asia, and small numbers from South America 
card or computer system present all on card, 

computerisation in preparation 

Helsinki (ZMUH) 

Info from: Risto A. Vaisanen, 17 Nov 1999 
address Zoological Museum, Finnish Museum 

of Natural History, University of Helsinki, P.O. 

Box 17, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland (visitors 

address: P. Rautatiekatu 13) 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

telephone #-358-9-1917440, fax #-358-9- 
1917443, e-mail 

staff responsible for bird coll. Prof Ann 
Forsten (head of vertebr. dept), Dr Risto A. 
Vaisanen (senior curator vertebr. dept), Dr 
Torsten Stjernberg (curator, manager of egg 
coll.), Pertti Saurola M. Sc. (curator, leader of 
ringing centre), Martti Hilden M. Sc. 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 3 coll. 
managers, 1.5 taxidermist, 0.5 others 

brief history Originally in University of Turku, 
where coll. destroyed by fire in 1827; 
University then moved to Helsinki, where new 
coll. built up, to which in c. 1830-1850 the 
colls, of the Societas pro Fauna et Flora 
Fennica and the private coll. of E. J. Bonsdorff 
were added. 

references to history, collections, or types — 

important past bird staff A. von Nordmann, 
M. von Wright, J. A. Palmen, Pontus 
Palmgren, O. Kalela, P. Voipio, R. Kreuger, G. 
Bergman, L. Sammalisto 

important collections come from Musem 
Oologicum R. Kreuger (worldwide egg coll.), 
E. Wassenius (W Palearctic egg coll.) 

approx. nr. of bird skins 29,000, incl. mounts 
(c.2,200 species) 

other bird items 1,200 skeletons & skulls, 900 
in alcohol, 31,000 egg sets (3,200 species), 800 
nests, 800 frozen tissue samples 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 600, 
from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
and donation of colls. 

bird skin collection specialised in Finland 
(22,000 skins, mostly rather recent); other 
skins generally rather old, exotic, partly 
mounted; eggs (worldwide); birds of prey and 
owls (esp Finnish Accipiter, Strix, Bubo) 

card or computer system present all on card to 
1996, all on computer 

Karlsruhe (SMNK) 

Info from: H.-W. Mittmann, 21 Jan 2002 
address Staatliches Museum ftir Naturkunde, 

ErbprinzenstraBe 13, D-76133 Karlsruhe, 

Baden-Wiirttemberg, Germany. 
telephone #-49-721-1752132, fax #-49-721- 

175211-010, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Prof. Dr V. 

Wirth (director), Dr Hans- Walter Mittmann 

(vertebrate curator) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 (for all vertebrates) 

brief history Founded c.1785; owned by the 

government of Baden-Wiirttemberg 
references to history, collections, or types — 
important past bird staff J. C. Gmelin, H. 

Knipper, K. Silber 
important collections come from Th. 

Andersen, K. Haberer, B. Hagen, J. Holderer, 

J. Riedel, J. Unger, Wandres, Zool. Inst. 

approx. nr. of bird skins 5,000 (incl mounts) 
other bird items 300 (partial) skeletons, 600 

egg sets, fewer than 50 birds in alcohol 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100- 

bird skin collection specialised in Germany 

(esp. Baden-Wiirttemberg), C & E Asia, 

Tanzania, Paraguay, Indonesia (New Guinea) 
card or computer system present all items on 



Info from: Saulius Rumbutis, 20 Dec 1999 
address Kaunas Zoological Museum, Laisves 

aleja 106, LT-3000 Kaunas, Lithuania 
telephone#-370-7-200305, fax #-370-7-229675, 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Algimantas 

Macikunas (head), Saulius Rumbutis 

(ornithologist of bird dept) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 coll. manager, 

2 taxidermists 
brief history Founded in 1919 by Prof. Tadas 

Ivanauskas; owned by the government 
references to history, collections, or types J. 

Vaskelis (1985) Soobsh. Pribalt. Kom. huch. 

Migr. Ptits 18: 112-118; Gaidiene (1999) 

(history); Andriuskevicius & Macikunas (1988) 

important past bird staff T Ivanauskas, K. 

Bybartas, L. Jezerskas, V. Juska, V. Logmina, 

V. Mackevicius, M. Navasaitis, B. Talandis, J. 

important collections come from L. 

approx. nr. of bird skins 7,630 (828 species) 
other bird items 435 skeletons (112 species) 

and 446 partial skeletons or skulls, 660 birds in 

spirits (80 species), 872 egg sets, 113 nests. 
approx. recent annual increase in skin coll. 

37, from own expeditions, buyings and 

donations, local birds skinned by own 


C.S. Rose! j ji 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

bird collection specialised in Lithuania 
card or computer system present all on card 

Kiel (ZMK) 

Into from: Wolfgang Dreyer, 7 Dec 1999. 

address Zoologisches Museum der Christian- 

Albrechts-Universitat. HegewischstraBe 3, D- 

24105 Kiel. Germany 
telephone #-49-(0)43 1-597 4180, fax #-49- 

(0)43 1 -597 4177. e-mail zool/ 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Wolfgang 

Dreyer (director of the zoological museum) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 taxidermist 

(for entire zoological museum) 
brief history Founded 1836; now part of Kiel 

University. See Hacker (1984) 
references to history, collections, or types 

Catalogue on bird bones in Arbeitsblatter Univ. 

Kiel. 8 (1985), on Dodo and Solitaire bones in 

Arbeitsblatter Univ. Kiel 14 (1987) 
important past bird staff W. Behn, K. Mobius 
important collections come from F. Boie, G. 

von Plessen 
approx. nr. of bird skins 7,000 (1,950 species) 
other bird items 50,000 skeletons; a few egg 

sets and nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skin coll. A 

few, from local birds skinned by own 

bird collection specialised in — 
card or computer system present all skins on 


Kiev (ZIK or ZMAU) 

Info from: Alexander Peklo, 07 Jul 1996 
address Zoological Museum, Natural History 

Museum of the Ukrainian Academy of 

Sciences, Bogdana Khmelnitskogo Str. 15, 

252030 Kiev, Ukraine 
telephone #-38-44-2247016 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Alexander 

total staff of bird dept. 1 curator 
brief history Founded in 1919 by V. A. 

Karavaev of the Ukrainean Academy of 

Sciences; still part of the Ukrainean Academy 

of Sciences 
references to history, collections, or types 

Shcherbak ( 1 969), Peklo ( 1 997a,b) 

important past bird staff N. Sharleman, A. 

Kistjakovsky, N. N. Shcherbak, M. 

Voinstvensky, V. Loskot 
important collections come from Y. Kostin, V. 

Ochapovsky, V. Zubarovsky 
approx. nr. of bird skins 40,000 (950 species) 
other bird items 120 skeletons, 120 in alcohol, 

1 ,200 egg sets, 600 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 30- 

150, from local birds, own expeditions, buying 

skins, and donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Ukraine, 

incl. Carpathians and Crimea (over 3,000 skins 

from latter), Caucasus, Turkmenistan, 

Transbaikalia, Russian Far East; most of the 

material quite recent 
card or computer system present Catalogue 

published (see Peklo 1997a,b) 


see Copenhagen 

Krakow (ISEA) 

Info from: Z. Bochenski, 25 Sep 1996 
address Zaklad Zoologii Systematycznej i 

Doswiadczalnej (Institute of Systematics and 

Evolution of Animals), PAN (Polish Academy 

of Sciences), Ul. Slawkowska 17, PL-31-016 

Krakow, Poland [skins & mounts partly housed 

in Muz. Przyrodnicze ISEZ, PAN, Sw. 

Sebastiana St. 9, 31-049 Krakow; curator Dr 

Wieslaw Krzeminski] 
telephone #-48-12-227066, ext. 226 (seer.: 

221901), fax #-48-12-224294 
staff responsible for bird coll. Prof. Dr 

Zygmunt Bochenski, Dr Zbigniew Bochenski 

(both staff of entire vertebrate division); Dr 

Teresa Tomek (curator of birds) 
total staff of bird dept. Vertebr. section (incl. 

birds): 1 head, 2 others (see above) 
brief history Founded in 1865 as Muzeum 

Komisji Fizjograficznej Akademii 

Umiejstnosci w Krakowie; now belongs to 

Polish Academy of Sciences 
references to history, collections, or types 

Bochenski (1966, 1984, 1990) 
important past bird staff K. Jelski 
important collections come from Z. 

Glowacinski, Z. Jakubiec, T. Oles, P. Profus, T 

approx. nr. of bird skins 1 ,400, incl. 200 

mounts (200 species) 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

other bird items 3,000 skeletons (1,033 

species), 2,900 egg sets, 300 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins None, 

but c.150 skeletons annually added, from own 

taxidermy, exchanges, etc. 
bird skin collection specialised in Skins & 

eggs: Poland, North Korea. Skeletons: 

worldwide (but esp W Palearctic) 
card or computer system present c. 1,000 on 

card; all skeletons on continually updated 

computer list 

Lausanne (MZL) 

Info from: Dr Olivier Glaizot, 30 Nov 2001 
address Musee Zoologie (MZL), Canton de 

Vaud, Case postale 448, CH-1000 Lausanne 

17, Suisse/ Switzerland (visitors address: Palais 

de Rumine, Place de la Riponne 6, CH-1005 

telephone #-#-41-21-316-3460, fax #—3479, e- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Olivier 

Glaizot (curator for all vertebrates) 
total staff of bird dept. See above 
brief history Founded late nineteenth century; 

owned by the Vaud Canton 
references to history, collections, or types - 
important past bird staff — 
important collections come from Capt. Vouga 

(in 1886), W. Morton, Delessert (eggs) 
approx. nr. of bird skins 7,000 (inch mounts) 
other bird items 1,000 (partial) skeletons, 3,000 

eggs, fewer than 100 birds on liquid and a few 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 100, 

mostly local 
bird skin collection specialised in Switzerland 

(esp. west); historical colls, worldwide 
card or computer system present 

computerisation in progress 

Leeds (LEEDM) 

Info from: Adrian Norris, 23 Nov 2001 
address Leeds Museum Resource Centre, 1 

Moorfield Road, Yeadon, Leeds LSI 9 7BN, 

telephone #-44-113-2146526, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Adrian Norris 

(Senior Curator of Natural Sciences) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 (see above) 

brief history Founded in 1819 as the Leeds 

Philosophical and Literary Society Collections; 

went to the Leeds City Council in 1921, and 

still run by this local authority. Partly bombed 

in 1940-1945 
references to history, collections, or types 

Norris (1998) 
important past bird staff - 
important collections come from W. T. 

Crampton (eggs), Eyres-Monsell coll, J. C. 

Hirst, Sir William Milner, Roundell coll.; 

Wakefield, Halifax & Swindon Museums 
approx. nr. of bird skins 4,500 (incl. 3,500 

mounts; an additional 1,000 mounts and many 

original data of other birds were lost by the 

damage in 1940-1945) 
other bird items 50 (partial) skeletons, 3,000 

egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins very 

bird skin collection specialised in mounts 

worldwide, partly historical (mounts in glass 

cases); includes various rare and extinct 

species. Eggs from Britain, Europe, Australia 

and N America 
card or computer system present Skins and 

mounts on computer, but only a minor part of 

the eggs. 

Leiden (RMNH for colls., NNM in 


Info from: R. Dekker, 19 Mar 1997 

address Naturalis, Nationaal Natuurhistorisch 

Museum, Postbus 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, the 

Netherlands (visitors: Darwinweg 2) 
telephone #-31-71-5687623, fax #-31-71- 

5687666, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Rene W. R. J. 

Dekker (head), Hein van Grouw (technical 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 coll. manager/ 

brief history Founded 1815 when the older coll. 

of C. J. Temminck came to government, with 

Temminck as first director; now a private 

institution with governmental support 
references to history, collections, or types 

Gijzen (1938), Stresemann (1951), Holthuis 

important past bird staff C. J. Temminck, C. 

Reinwardt, H. Boie, H. Schlegel, O. Finsch, J. 

Buttikofer, E. D. van Oort, G. C. A. Junge, G. 

F. Mees 

C.S. Roselat 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

important collections come from T. Andersen, 
M. Bands 1 15.000 skins from Java), H. A. 
Bernstein, A. A. Bruyn, W. Bullock coll./Mus 
Leverianum (sec Yienna/Wien), H. Burger, K. 
H. Chen. L. Coomans de Ruiter, D. C. van 
Dam. P. M. Diard, F. von Faber, E. A. Forsten, 
G. W. FreyreiB. J. Gilbert, J. Gould, B. Hagen, 
J. C. van Hasselt. F. Haverschmidt, P. A. Hens, 
Th. von Heuglin, W. C. & F. C. van Heurn, D. 
S. Hoedt, A. Hoogerwerf. E. R. Jacobsen. C. 
Klaesi. Th. Kriiper. J. S. Kubary, H. Kuhl, T. 
Kumlien, J. R. Laenen, F. Levaillant, T. G. van 
Lidth de Jeude. H. A. Lorentz, H. C. Macklot, 
S. Miiller, A. W. Nieuwenhuijs, J. W. Nouhuys, 
H. S. Pel, V. von Plessen, F. Pollen, G. van 
Raalten, L. van Renesse van Duivenbode, J. 
Riedel. H. von Rosenberg, W. F. H. Rosenberg, 
E. Riippell, G. Schlegel, L. A. C. M. Schwaner, 
W. E. D. Scott, P. F. von Siebold, F. K. 
Stampfli, R. Swinhoe, J. E. Teysman, E. J. 
Verreaux, A. G Vorderman, J. P. van 
Wickevoort Crommelin 

approx. nr. of bird skins 170,000, inch 
c. 53.000 mounts (in total, 7,000 species) 

other bird items 6,673 skeletons, 1,200 in 
alcohol, 32,571 eggs, c. 3,500 nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 500, 
from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
and buying of colls. 

bird skin collection specialised in Indonesia, 
Japan, Netherlands, E China, Taiwan, 
Madagascar, Liberia, Tanzania, Kenya, 
Surinam; over 2,400 types. 37,900 mounts and 
41,100 skins of non-passerines, remainder 
passerines (mainly skins) 

card or computer system present c.50% of 
skins on card; only types & extincts on 

Leipzig (NKML) 

Info from: M. Meyer, 30 Nov 2001 
address Naturkundemuseum Leipzig, 

LortzingstraBe 3, D-04105 Leipzig, Germany 
telephone #-47-341-982210, fax #-47-341- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr M. Meyer 

(curator of vertebrates) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 (for entire vertebrate 

coll.. see above) 
brief history Founded 1906 by the 

Naturwissenschaftliche Vereinigung des 

Leipziger Lehrervereins, opened 1912; from 

1930 owned by Stadt Leipzig 

references to history, collections, or types — 
important past bird staff E. Hesse, E. Poppig, 

H. H. ter Meer, etc 
important collections come from H. O. 

Grimm, W. Gueinzius, R. Schlegel (eggs), E. 

approx. nr. of bird skins 6,250 (incl. 2,300 

other bird items 310 (partial) skeletons, 10 in 

liquid, 5,000 eggs sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins nil 
bird skin collection specialised in Europe; the 

exotic birds formerly in the coll. were given to 

the Dresden Museum in the 1970s, but still 

includes extinct birds like Pinguinus, Nestor 

productus, Heteralochia, etc. 
card or computer system present all on card 


Info from: Roger Marcel, 27 Dec 1999 
address Musee d'Histoire Naturelle de Ville de 

Lille, 19 Rue de Bruxelles, 59000 Lille, 

telephone #-33-(0)3-285530380 fax #-33-(0)3- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Roger 

Marcel (conservateur universitaire), Bertrand 

Rodigois (coll. manager) 
total staff of bird dept. See above 
brief history Founded in the mid- 1850s when 

the coll. of Degland was obtained by the Lille 

Municipality; still owned by the Ville de Lille 
references to history, collections, or types 

Only Degland's catalogue available, printed 

important past bird staff A. Bart 
important collections come from C. D. 

Degland, coll. Vilmarest-de Cossette 
approx. nr. of bird skins 11,000 (incl. many 

other bird items very few, and without 

scientific interest 
approx. recent annual increase in skins c.50, 

from various sources 
bird skin collection specialised in Europe 

(especially France) (c. 5,000 birds from the 

colls. Degland and Vilmarest), also, 6,000 birds 

from elsewhere in the world, but largely 

without full locality data 
card or computer system Degland coll. on card 

& computer, cataloguing of Vilmarest coll. in 


C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


Info from: G. Aubrecht, 6 Dec 1999 

address Biologie Zentrum des Landesmuseums, Johann- 
Wilhelm-Klein-StraBe 73, A-4040 Linz- 
Dornach, Osterreich/ Austria. 

telephone #(0)723-759733-57, 
fax #(0)732-759733-99, e-mail 
g. aubrecht at 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Gerhard 
Aubrecht (zoologist), Mag. Stefan Weigl 
(zoologist, head of taxidermist laboratory), 
Jiirgen Plass (coll. manager) 

total staff of bird dept. see above; also, 1 
taxidermist & 1 secretary 

brief history Founded 1833 as Museum of 
Upper Austria (a private society), now owned 
by Government of Upper Austria 

references to history, collections, or types 
Kerschner & Schadler (1933), Lindorfer 
(1970), Aubrecht & Mayer (1983), Aubrecht 
(1987, 1995) 

important past bird staff A. Reischek, T. 
Kerschner, G.Th. Mayer 

important collections come from A. Reischek 
(but most went to Vienna), T. Angele (1,500 
specimens, incl. coll. A. G. H. Rudatis from 
Natal), G. Wieninger (e.g. Paraguay), J. 
Lindorfer (eggs) 

approx. nr. of bird skins 8,200 (incl 3,600 
mounts), c. 1,000 species 

other bird items a few skeletons, 160 skulls, 
3,400 egg sets (360 species), 450 nests, 
feathers and pluckings of c.220 birds 

approx. recent annual increase in skins c.100, 
from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
and buying of colls. 

bird skin collection specialised in Upper 
Austria, New Zealand, Natal, Paraguay; 
raptors and owls. 

card or computer system All until 1990s on 
card; all skins, the Angele coll., and birds 
received since 1990 are on computer (in the 
ZOBODAT system), making geographical 
grouping and plotting on maps easier 

Lisbon/Lisboa (MB) 

Info from: C. Almaca, 03 Apr 1997, updated C. 

Hazevoet, 27 Mar 2002 
address Museu Bocage, Fac. de Ciencias, Rua 

da Escola Politecnica 58, P-1200 Lisboa, 


telephone #-351-1-3965853 or 604485, fax #- 
351-1-3969784, e-mail, 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Maria da 
Graca Ramalhino (head of vertebrate section), 
Dr Carlos Almaca (director of Museum), Dr C. 
J. Hazevoet (bird dept.) 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1.5 taxidermist, 
0.5 secretary, 1 other (all for entire vertebr. 

brief history Founded in 1772 by Domingos 
Vandelli as Real Museu e Jardim Botanico da 
Ajuda; now belongs to the University of 
Lisboa. A fire destroyed the entire coll. in 
March 1978, but it is now gradually being built 
up again 

references to history, collections, or types 
Before the fire of 1978: Soares (1970, 1971, 
1973, 1977); after the fire: Soares (1983), 
Almaca (1987, 1993, 1994, 1996), Almaca & 
Neves (1987) 

important past bird staff J. V. Barbosa du 
Bocage, G. F. Sacarrao, A. A. Soares 

important collections come from several old 
ones, but destroyed by fire (see above) 

approx. nr. of bird skins 2,500 (at present; see 
above), 250 species 

other bird items a few eggs and nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 100, 
from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

bird skin collection specialised in Originally, 
many birds from Angola, Mozambique, 
Portugal, etc. After the fire, a coll. of birds of 
Portugal is being made again, with some 
additional birds present from Madeira and Sao 

card or computer system present All on card 
and computer; the card system for the coll. 
destroyed by fire is still in existence 

Lisbon/Lisboa (CZ/IICT) 

Info from: J. Crawford-Cabral, 07 May 1997 

address Centro de Zoologia, Instituto de 
Investigacao Cientifica Tropical, Rua da 
Junqueira 14, P-1300 Lisboa, Portugal 

telephone #-351-1-3637055, e-mail 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Luis Mendes 
(curator), Pedro Santos (head, higher vertebrate 
colls.), Maria Jose Teixeira (coll. manager) 

total staff of bird dept. see above (for entire 
vertebrate section) 

C.S. RoscLur 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

brief history Founded as Junta das Missoes 
Geogr&ficas e de Investigates Coloniais in 
1936, which organised expeditions; to keep the 
colls., the Centra de Zoologia was founded in 
L948; a governmental institution 

references to history, collections, or types 
Rosa Pinto ( 1983), de Naurois (1994 a.b) 
(books based on the colls, of the CZ/IICT] 

important past bird staff F. Frade, Joao 

important collections come from Missao 
Cientffica de S. Tome (1954-1956), Missao de 
Estudos Zoologicos do Ultramar (1963-1970), 
Missao Zoologica da Guine 1944-1946, 
Missao Zoologica de Mozambique 1948 & 
1955. R. de Naurois. A. A. da Rosa Pinto, G. 

approx. nr. of bird skins 6,340 (1,120 species) 

other bird items 250 in alcohol, 1 10 eggs, a 
few nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 

bird skin collection specialised in Cape Verde 
Islands (600 skins. 55 spec), Guinea Bissau, 
Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique, Goa, 
Macau, Timor 

card or computer system present all skins on 
card system; computerisation planned 

Liverpool (LivCM) 

Info from: C. T. Fisher, July 1996 

address Liverpool Museum, National Museums 
& Galleries on Merseyside, Dept. of Vertebrate 
Zoology, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 
8EN, U.K. 

telephone #-44- 1 5 1 -207-000 1 , fax #-44- 151- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Clemency T. 
Fisher (curator of birds & mammals), Tony 
Parker B. Sc. (ass. curator vertebrates), Dr 
Malcolm J. Largen (herpetologist, but 
occasionally also birds) 

total staff of bird dept. 3 scientists, 2 
taxidermists, 2 others (all partly working on 
other groups) 

brief history Founded 1851 when the large and 
much older private coll. of Lord Stanley (the 
1 3th Earl of Derby) was presented to the City 
of Liverpool; now funded by the government 
(formerly by the Merseyside County Council) 

references to history, collections, or types 
Wagstaffe ( 1 978), Fisher (1981), Cowper 
(1984), Largen & Rogers-Price (1985), Largen 
(1987. 1988). Woolfall (1990) 

important past bird staff T. J. Moore, H. O. 
Forbes, L. Fraser, E. Lear, H. G. Robinson, R. 
Wagstaffe, P. J. Morgan 

important collections come from J. Abbot, T. 
Ayres, Bates, T. Bridges, W. E. Brooks, W. 
Buller, W. Bullock coll. (see Vienna/Wien), J. 
Burke, W. D. Cowan, H. Cuming, W. R. 
Davison, H. O. Forbes, L. Fraser, W. T. & E. 
Gerrard, J. Gilbert, J. Gould, J. H. Gurney, G 
Henderson, India Mus., W. Jardine, T. C. 
Jerdon, F. H. Kirby, J. Latham, C. L. & E. L. 
Layard, J. Leadbeater, J. MacGillivray, L. 
Mandelli, Mus. Godeffroy, Rev. Inglis, Mus. 
Leverianum (see Vienna/Wien), E. W. Oates, 
R. C. L. Perkins, H. Pryer, P. Rendell, G. E. 
Richards, W. Rowan, H. Salt, O. Salvin, St. 
Helen's Mus., A. Smith, Lord Stanley (Earl of 
Derby) coll. (over 20,000 skins), W. Swainson, 
R. Swinhoe, H. B. Tristram coll. (over 17,000 
skins; another 7,000 to Philadelphia), Verreaux, 
Voy. Beagle, A. R. Wallace, Webster-Harris 
exp., Whitfield, S. Whitmee, A. Whyte, J. G 

approx. nr. of bird skins 48,192, excl. 3,367 
mounts (5,700 species) 

other bird items 700 skeletons, 12,000 egg sets, 
180 nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 50, 
from local birds skinned by own taxidermist, 
buying of colls., and donations 

bird skin collection specialised in 'strong in all 
areas and families'; Tristram coll. especially 
strong in Middle East, North Africa, Canary 
Is., Bermuda, eastern USA, Pacific, Japan, etc. 

card or computer system present All items on 
card and all on computer (except part of eggs), 
available in various arrangements (Dbase III) 

Lund (ZMUL) 

Info from: L. Cederholm, Aug. 1996 
address Zoologisk Museum, Universitet fran 

Lund, Helgonavagen 3, S-22362 Lund, Sweden 
telephone #-46-46-222-9330, fax #-46-46-222- 

4541, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Prof Sven-Axel 

Bengtson (head of entire museum) 
total staff of bird dept. 0.5 taxidermist 
brief history Founded 1735; now part of the 

University of Lund 
references to history, collections, or types 

Ldwegren (1968) 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

important past bird staff Sven Nilsson, G. 

Rudebeck, Yngve Lowegren, Lennart 

important collections come from — 
approx. nr. of bird skins 20,000 
other bird items 1,000 skeletons, 800 in 

alcohol, 2,000 tissue samples, 8,393 egg sets, 

400 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 300- 

2,000, from local birds skinned by own 

bird skin collection specialised in Sweden 
card or computer system present all skins and 

mounts on computer 

Lviv (Lvov) 

Info from: Ihor Shydlovskyy, 4 Jan 2000 
address Benedykt Dybowsky Zoological 

Museum of the Ivan Franko Lviv National 

University, Hrushevsky Str. 4, 79005 Lviv, 

telephone #-380-(0)322-794 548, fax #-, e-mail, website http://www. or http:// 

staff responsible for bird coll. Ihor 

total staff of bird dept. See above (head of 

entire museum as well as taxidermist); also, 

staff present of the West-Ukrainian 

Ornithological Station WUOS 
brief history Founded 1885, but includes 

material of the Lvov Cabinet of Natural 

History, dating from 1823; now part of the 

references to history, collections, or types 

Catalogue of rare and endangered animals: 

Tsaryk (2000); oological catalogue is in 

important past bird staff B. I. Dybowsky, F. I. 

Strautman, N. A. Srebrodolska, A. Ulianovsky, 

Z. I. Pavliv, 1. 1. Hladunko, I. Gorban 
important collections come from — 
approx. nr. of bird skins 3,500 (incl. 1,604 

other bird items 476 egg sets, 55 nests, a few 

skeletons and spirit specimens 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 20- 

25, from own expeditions and local specimens 
bird skin collection specialised in Ukraine, but 

also quite a number of exotic species (120 

families represented) 

card or computer system present in 


Madrid (MNCN) 

Info from: J. Barreiro, 02 Sep 1996 & 11 Nov 

address Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales 
(Consejo Superior de Investigaciones 
Cientificas CSIC), Jose Gutierrez Abascal, 2, 
E-28006 Madrid, Spain 

telephone #-34-9 1 -4 1 1 - 1 328, fax #-34-9 1 -564- 
5078, e-mail 

staff responsible for bird coll. Ms Josefina 
Barreiro (curator of birds and mammals), Dr 
Eulalia Moreno (researcher Ecologia Evolutiva 
dept.), Dr P. Alberch (general director) 

total staff of bird dept. 1 coll. manager, 1.5 
taxidermist, 0.4 other (for birds and mammals) 

brief history Founded in 1771 when King 
Carlos III obtained the colls, of Pedro Franco 
Davila; now part of the Vicedireccion de 
Colecciones y Documentacion of CSIC, a 
governmental organisation 

references to history, collections, or types 
Barreiro (1997), Barreiro & Perez del Val 

important past bird staff A. Gil Lletget, F. 

important collections come from A. Boucard, 
P. Franco Davila (obt. 1771; no birds left now), 
Exped. Pacifico 1862-1866 

approx. nr. of bird skins 19,000 (1,000 

other bird items 6,000 skeletons, 1 ,900 in 
alcohol, 1,500 egg sets, 235 nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 200 
(mainly to skeleton or alcohol coll.), from local 
birds skinned by own taxidermist and 

bird skin collection specialised in Spain (9,300 
skins), Morocco (965), C & S America (4,452: 
esp Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, 
Guatemala, Cuba, Panama, Peru), Philippines 
(524), Eq. Guinea (503), Zaire (462), Japan 
(281), China (247), Indonesia (151), India 
(132), Australia (116); Trochilidae (1,749), 
Accipitridae (1,480), Emberizidae (1,318), etc. 
2 types. Most birds from 1880-1930 

card or computer system present part of skins 
on card system, all on computer 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Magdeburg (MfNM) 

Into from: H. Pellmann, 28 Nov 2001 

address Museum fiir Naturkunde Otto-von- 

GuerickestraBe 68-73. D-39104 Magdeburg, 

telephone #-49-39 1 -540350 1 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Hans 

Pellmann (tor all vertebrates) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 (see above) 
brief history Founded 1874; owned by the city 

of Magdeburg 
references to history, collections, or types 

Kriiger (1925) (history, catalogue) 
important past bird staff — 
important collections come from — 
approx. nr. of bird skins 6,200 
other bird items 1.200 egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 10-50 
bird skin collection specialised in Magdeburg 

and surrounding state of Sachsen-Anhalt; also 

from elsewhere in Germany, as well as various 

Palearctic and exotic birds 
card or computer system present All on card; 

catalogue in preparation 

Manchester (MANCH) 

Info from: M. Hounsome, 03 Apr 1997 
address The Manchester Museum, University of 

Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 

9PL, U.K. 
telephone #-44-161-275-2673, fax #-44-161- 

275-2676, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Michael V. 

Hounsome (Keeper of Zoology) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 part-time 

technician, 2 volunteers 
brief history Founded in 1821 by the 

Manchester Society of Natural History, now 

owned by the University of Manchester 
references to history, collections, or types For 

catalogue, see Internet page 
important past bird staff R. B. Sharpe, H. E. 

Dresser, Coward 
important collections come from H. E. Dresser 

coll. (15,000 birds, obtained 1896, and many 

eggs, obtained 1906) 
approx. nr. of bird skins 16,500. incl. 400 

mounts (3.500 species) 
other bird items 100s of skeletons, 50 in 

alcohol, 10,000 egg sets ( of 3,000 species), 50 


approx. recent annual increase in skins 50, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist, 
own expeditions, buying of colls., and 

bird skin collection specialised in worldwide, 
but especially Palearctic; all families' 

card or computer system present part of skins 
on card, all on computer, available at web 
page: see http/ 

Milan/Milano (MSNM) 

Info from: G. Chiozzi, 11 May 1995, updated 13 

Nov 1999 
address Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Corso 

Venezia, 55, 1-20121 Milano, Italy 
telephone #-39-02-781312, fax #-39-02-7602- 

2287, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Giorgio 

Chiozzi (head), Dr Luigi Cagnolaro (head dept. 

vertebr. zool.) 
total staff of bird dept. 0.1 head, 1 coll. 

manager, 1 taxidermist 
brief history Founded in 1831 by G. De 

Cristoforis & G. Jan, but only a few birds were 

included until 1884; part of coll. destroyed in 

1943; owned by the Municipality of Milano 
references to history, collections, or types 

Violani et al. (1984), Violani (1985), Chiozzi 

important past bird staff Edgardo Moltoni 
important collections come from L. 

D'Albertis, O. Beccari, A. A. Bruijn, Emin 

Pasha, J. Hildebrandt, L. Laglaize, Capt. 

Loche, A. Malherbe, H. Moschler, A. B. 

Meyer, T. Salvadori, G. Scortecci, Count E. 

Turati private coll. (20,661 skins, 700 

skeletons, 3,000 eggs), Maison Verreaux 
approx. nr. of bird skins 34,000 
other bird items 126 skeletons, 1,000 skulls & 

keels, 2,500 eggs 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100, 

purchased from private taxidemists 
bird skin collection specialised in Italy, 

Palearctic, Algeria, NE Africa, Comoros, 

Madagascar, S America; Charadriiformes, 

Picidae, Trochilidae, Paradisaeidae, 

Passeriformes. Includes 124 skins of extinct 

and endangered birds 
card or computer system present small parts 

of the coll. on card and computer 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Moscow/Moskva (ZMMU) 

Info from: P. Tomkovich, 15 Mar 1995, updated 
by M. Kalyakin, 26 J-an 2000 & 1 1 Nov 2001 

address Zoological Museum, Orn. dept., 
Moscow Lomonosov State University 
(Zoologicheskii Muzei MGU), Bolshaya 
Nikitskaya Str. 6, 103009 Moscow (Moskva), 

telephone #-7-95-203-4366, 
fax #-7-95-203-2717, e-mail 
kalyakin @ 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Pavel 
Tomkovich (head), Dr Eugene A. Koblik 
(specialised in Emberizidae and fauna of 
former USSR), Dr Mikhail V. Kalyakin 
(specialised in Sylviidae, Pycnonotidae, 
anatomy, and fauna of Vietnam) 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 2 scientific coll. 
managers, 2 taxidermists 

brief history Restarted in 1812 by J. G. Fischer 
von Waldheim after a fire had destroyed the 
older museum in the Napoleontic War; part of 
Moscow State University 

references to history, collections, or types 
Bogdanov (1892), Turov (1956), Sudilovskaya 
(1959, 1962, 1972, 1977), Tomkovich & 
Barisheva (1987), Rossolimo (1991) 

important past bird staff J. G. Fischer von 
Waldheim, M. N. Bogdanov, M. A. Menzbier, 
S. A. Buturlin, S. I. Ognev, G. P. Dementiev, N. 
A. Gladkov, S. M. Uspenskii, E. P. 
Spangenberg, A. M. Sudilovskaya, S. S. Turov 

important colections were obtained from or 
presented by V. N. Bostanzhoglo (Bostanjolo), 
P. G Demidov, V. E. Flint, V. E. Fomin, V. A. 
Khakhlov, A. P. Kuzyakin, G. Baron von 
Langsdorf, V. V. Morozov, G. I. Polyakov, N. 
A. Severtzov, S. S. Turov 

approx. nr. of bird skins 117,000 (1,500 

other bird items 2,000 skeletons, 3,000 in 
alcohol (500 species), 8,500 egg sets (often 
with the nests) (600 species) 

approx. recent annual increase in coll. 500- 
600 items (skins, egg sets, etc), from 
expeditions, donations, and local birds skinned 
by own taxidermist 

bird skin collection specialised in Former 
Soviet Union (especially the NE), Mongolia, N 
& W China, Vietnam, Brazil, Japan, USA; 
birds of prey, waders, gulls, owls, passerines 
(e.g. Paridae); 300 types 

card or computer system present all skins and 
most egg sets & nests on card, only types on 

Moscow/Moskva (SDM) 

Info from: E. Nesterov, 16 Jul 1996 
address Darwin Museum, Vavilova Street 57, 

117292 Moskva, Russia 
telephone & fax #-7-95-135-33-76, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Eugene V 

Nesterov (head), Igor V Fadeev (curator) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 curator, 1 

brief history Founded in 1907 by Prof. A. F. 

Koths; government-owned 
references to history, collections, or types 

Fadeev (1999) 
important past bird staff — 
important collections come from G P. 

Dementiev, M. N. Divnogorskii, V A. 

Khakhlov, A. M. Khomyakov, A. P. Kuzyakin, 

F K. Lorentz, M. A. Menzbier, E. P. 

Spangenberg, P. P. Sushkin 
approx. nr. of bird skins 11,000 (1,500 species) 
other bird items 50 skeletons, 1,000 egg sets, 

150 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 150, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist, 

expeditions, donations, and from zoos & 

bird skin collection specialised in worldwide; 

all families, especially Tetraonidae, Anatidae, 

Trochilidae; incl. Pinguinus impennis & 

Ectopistes migratorius 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card and computer 



Info from: Y. Kurochkin, 10 Feb 2000 
address Laboratory of Paleoherpetology and 

Paleo-ornithology, Institute of Paleontology, 

Russian Academy of Sciences, 123 

Profsouznaya Streeet, 117868 Moscow GSP-7, 

telephone #-7-95-339-6988, fax #-7-95-339- 

1266, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Yevgeny N. 

Kurochkin (head), Dr Aleksandr Karhu 
total staff of bird dept. See above. 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

brief history Founded 1962 by the Russian 

Acadenn of Sciences 
references to history, collections, or types 

none (but see Wood et al. 1982) 
important past bird staff — 
important collections come from — 
approx. nr. of bird skins none, but 5,000 bird 

skeletons ( 1 .500 species) 
other bird items 70 in alcohol 
approx. recent annual increase in skeleton 

coll. 100. from own expeditions and zoo 

bird collection specialised in skeletons 
card or computer system present all skeletons 

on card, part on computer 

Munich/Munchen (ZSM) 

Info from: J. H. Reichholf, 07 Apr 1997, some 

add. F. Steinheimer, Aug 2002 
address Zoologische Staatssammlung, 

Munchhausenstrasse 21, D-81247 Munchen, 

telephone & fax #-49-89-8107-123 (81070: 

staff responsible for bird coll. Prof Dr Josef H. 

Reichholf (head of bird department), Ms Ruth 

Diesener (ass.) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 technical 

assist., 1 taxidermist 
brief history Founded in 1759 as private coll. of 

Kurfiirst Maximilian III Joseph von Bayern, 

but real growth only after arrival of von Spix in 

1 807, and again, after a 60-year gap in bird 

activity, with C. E. Hellmayr in 1903; now 

belongs to the Bayern government 
references to history, collections, or types 

Hellmayr (1928), Reichholf (1983) 
important past bird staff J. B. von Spix, J. 

Wagler, A. Wagner, F. Doflein, K. Parrot, H. 

Sachtleben, E. Zugmayer, C. Hellmayr, C. 

Zimmer, A. Laubmann, G. Diesselhorst 
important collections come from G. von 

Almasy, T. Andersen, Princes Therese von 

Bayern, Canesi, Comte R. de Dalmas, K. 

Deniger, H. Diirck, Exp. Filchner, A. Fischer, J. 

Gengler, J. von Haast, K. Haberer, J. Haffer, B. 

Hagen, J. C. van Hasselt, Haverschmidt, Keerl, 

S. M. Klages, K. L. Koch, H. Krieg, H. Kuhl, 

Kunkel, priv. coll. A. Laubmann (6,000 skins), 

M. von Leuchtenberg, F. Leybold, L. Martin, 

G Merzbacher, K. Michahellis, L. Miiller, J. 

Natterer, O. Neumann, Neunteufel, M. W. 

Palmer. Popp, M. Prager, G. Radde, J. Riedel, 
A., H. & R. Schlagintweit, R. Schlegel, W. 
Sehlliter, J. von Seilern, Ph. F. von Siebold, Lt. 
Sommerfeld, E. Stechow, E. Stresemann, J. H. 
C. F. & J. W. Sturm, O. Tauern, R. von 
Thanner, V. von Tschusi, H. & C. Watkins, H. 
Weigold, L. von Wiedenfeld 

approx. nr. of bird skins 60,000 (6,000 

other bird items almost nil 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 50, 
from local birds skinned by own taxidermist, 
donations, customs, etc. 

bird skin collection specialised in Germany 
(Bavaria, Pfalz), Corsica, Lithuania, Hungary, 
Macedonia, Asia Minor, Iraq, Caucasus area, C 
Asia (W Tibet, Tien Shan, Baluchistan, Nepal), 
Sri Lanka, E China, Japan, Kuril Is, Indonesia 
(e.g. Sumatra, Bangka, Timor, Bum, Misol), 
NE New Guinea, Senegambia, Tanzania, 
Mexico, Galapagos, South America (Colombia, 
Venezuela, Trinidad, Brazil, Peru), etc.; over 
400 types 

card or computer system present part of skins 
on card, none on computer 

Munster (WMN) 

Info from: H Terlutter, 30 Nov. 2001 

address Westfalisches Museum fiir Naturkunde, 
Sentruper StraBe 285, D-48149 Munster, 

telephone #-49-251-5916014, e-mail 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Heinrich 

total staff of bird dept. 1 

brief history Founded 1872 by Bernard Altum, 
F. von Droste-Hulshoff, and H. Landois, 
opened 1874, considerably enlarged in 1891 
and after the arrival of Rensch in 1937; owned 
by Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe 

references to history, collections, or types 

important past bird staff F. von Droste- 
Hulshoff, H. Landois, R. Koch, H. Reeker, H. 
Reichling, B. Rensch, L. Franzisket 

important collections come from L. zu Salm- 
Salm, A. Tenckhoff (eggs) 

approx. nr. of bird skins 6,000 

other bird items 20 (partial) skeletons, 600 egg 
sets, 100 nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 100 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

bird skin collection specialised in NW 

card or computer system present In 


Nantes (MHNNT) 

Info from: Francois Meurgey, 29 Jan 2002 
address Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 

Nantes, 12 rue Voltaire, F-44000 Nantes, 

telephone #-33-2-40-992620/ 992627, fax #-33- 

2-40-51840191, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Francois 

total staff of bird dept. — 
brief history Founded nineteenth century; 

belongs to municipality of Nantes 
references to history, collections, or types 

Marchand & Kowalski (1903), Durand (1961), 

important past bird staff Louis Bureau, J. 

important collections come from Blandin, 

Bonjour, Vian 
approx. nr. of bird skins 22,100 
other bird items 108 (partial) skeletons, 8,757 

egg sets, 365 feather sets, 124 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins fewer 

than 10 
bird skin collection specialised in W France, 

but also birds from elsewhere in Europe and 

from Africa and Asia. 
card or computer system present All on 

computer (Taurus database) 

Neuchatel (MHNNL) 

Info from: B. Mulhauser, 26 Nov 2001 
address Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 

Neuchatel, Rue des Terreaux 14, CH-2000 

Neuchatel, Switzerland 
tel. #-41-32-7177960, fax #-41-32-7177969, e- 

mail blaise. mulhauser 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Blaise 

Mulhauser (curator of all vertebrates) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 (see above) 
brief history Founded 1835, but based on older 

coll. of C. D. de Meuron presented to the city 

in 1795); owned by the city of Neuchatel 
references to history, collections, or types 

Dufour & Haenni (1985) (history), Desfayes 

(1994) (data on 91 types of Tschudi from Peru) 

important past bird staff L. Coulon, R Godet, 

Louis Agassiz, M. Desfayes 
important collections come from J. J. von 

Tschudi, A. Mathey-Dupraz, F Gehringer, S. 

Robert (eggs), 
approx. nr. of bird skins 10,000 (3,200 

other bird items 200 (partial) skeletons, 6,000 

eggs, 200 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 30 
bird skin collection specialised in Switzerland, 

Europe generally, N USA (Agassiz), C & S 

America (esp. Peru: Tschudi), Australia; incl. 

9 1 types and 24 paratypes from Tschudi and 

c.13 types from other authors 
card or computer system present — 

Newcastle (NEWHM) 

Info from: L. Jessop, 07 Apr 1997 

address The Hancock Museum, Barras Bridge, 

Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear NE2 4PT, 

telephone #-44-191-222-7418, fax #-44-191- 

222-6753, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. A. Coles 

(curator of entire biology and geology coll.), L. 

Jessop (keeper of biology [incl. birds]), E. 

Morton (ass. keeper biology) 
total staff of bird dept. Fewer than 1 : see above 

(no one specifically dedicated to bird coll. 

brief history Founded c. 1760-1770 as private 

coll. of Marmaduke Tunstall; coll. went to 

Newcastle in 1822, and belongs to the Natural 

History Society of Northumbria since the latter 

was founded in 1829 
references to history, collections, or types 

important past bird staff John Hancock, 

Thomas Bewick 
important collections come from Herb. 

approx. nr. of bird skins 12,000, incl. 2,000 

other bird items 200 skeletons, 10 in alcohol, 

10,000 egg sets, 1,000 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 10, 

from own taxidermy 
bird skin collection specialised in Great 

Britain; India (Stevens coll., 4,050 skins, 

received 1965); also, some types and 8 extinct 

or endangered birds (catalogue of rarer birds in 


C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

card or computer system present all skins on 

computer: mounts not catalogued 

Oslo (ZMUO) 

Info from: J. Lifjeld, 12 Nov 1999 

address Zoologisk Museum, Sars gate 1, N- 

0562 Oslo. Norway 
telephone #-47-2285 1 726. fax #-47-2285 1 837, 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Jan T. Lifjeld 
total staff of bird dept. 2 
brief history — 
references to history, collections, or types Ore 

&Hoeg (1961) (history) 
important past bird staff R. Collett. Edvard K. 

Barth. R. Vik. Gunnar Lid, T. Slagsvold 
important collections come from A. Bernoft- 

Osa. Y. Hagen. C. Lumholtz, 0. Olsen, H. T. L. 

Schaanning, J. Koren, J. Thome 
approx. nr. of bird skins 25,000, incl. 2,000- 

4.000 mounts 
other bird items 1,000 skeletons, 500 in spirit, 

6.500 egg sets, 5,000 tissue samples 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 50- 

bird skin collection specialised in Norway, 

Australia. Borneo, Antarctica, Siberia, 

Svalbard, Tristan da Cunha 
card or computer system present Skins, eggs, 

and tissue samples on computer 

Oxford (OUM) 

Info from: J. Pickering, 1996 

address Zoological Collections, Oxford 

University Museum, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 

3PW, U.K. 
telephone #-44-1865-272950, fax #-44-1865- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Tom Kemp 

(curator of the zoological colls.), Jane 

Pickering M.Sc. (assistant curator of birds) 
total staff of bird dept. 0.5 head, 1 ass. curator, 

1 technician 
brief history Founded in 1683 as private coll. of 

J. Tradescant when the Ashmole coll. arrived in 

Oxford; coll. came to Oxford University in 

1 860 
references to history, collections, or types 

Davies& Hull (1976, 1983) 
important past bird staff many' 
important collections come from O. V. Aplin, 

Sir John Harrow. W. J. Burchell, C. & E. Hose, 

F. P. Pascoe, H. S. Rohu, S. W. Silver, R. H. 

Thomas, W. H. Treacher, C. M. N. White 
approx. nr. of bird skins 19,000 ('many 

other bird items 1,500 skeletons, 500 in 

alcohol, 2,000 egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 20, 

from donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Britain, 

South Africa, Borneo, Sulawesi, New Guinea, 

Ecuador, Brazil, Arctic, New Zealand 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card, none on computer 

Paris (MNHN) 

Info from: E. Pasquet, 07 May 1997, updated 14 

Nov 1999 
address Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 

Laboratoire de Zoologie, dep Mammiferes et 

Oiseaux, 55 Rue de Buffon, F-75005 Paris, 

telephone #-33-1-40793062, fax #-33-1- 

40973063, e-mail, 
staff responsible for bird coll. Eric Pasquet 

(curator of bird coll.), Christine Lefevre 

(curator of skeletons), Geraldine Veron, C. 

Voisin, J.-F. Voisin, C. Jouanin (volunteer 

total staff of bird dept. See above; also 1 

technician, 1 taxidermist, 1 secretary (for Dept. 

of Birds & Mammals), 1 librarian (for entire 

Zoology Lab.) 
brief history Founded in 1793, when the older 

colls, of Reaumur, Brisson, and the Cabinet du 

Roi went to the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle; 

owned by the French government 
references to history, collections, or types 

Berlioz (1929, 1935, 1950), Jouanin (1951, 

1962), Voisin (1992, 1993, 1995) 
important past bird staff G.-L. Buffon, F. 

Cuvier, J. Verreaux, R. P. Lesson, E. & I. 

Geoffroy de St Hilaire, A. Milne-Edwards, E. 

Oustalet, A. Menegaux, J. Berlioz, R. D. 

Etchecopar, J. Dorst, F. Roux 
important collections come from G. Babault, 

N. Baudin, J. A. Bernier, G. Bonvalot, A. 

Boucard, J. Bourcier, Maison Bouvier, W. 

Bullock coll./Mus. Leverianum (see Vienna/ 

Wien), M. J. Brisson, A. A. Bruijn, Pere 

Armand David, A. David-Beaulieu, Jean 

Delacour, P. A. Delalande, P. M. Diard, L. 

Dufresne, J. Dumont d'Urville, L. Duperrey, 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Maison Dupont, A. Duvaucel, P. Engelbach, L. 
Freycinet, J. P. Gaimard, P. Garnot, J. B. 
Hombron, P. Jabouille, C. & H. Jacquinot, 
Baron Meiffren Laugier, J. Leschenault de la 
Tour, F. Levaillant, Marche, R. Mauge de Cely, 
H. Moschler, R. de Naurois, A. Neboux, Prince 
Henri d' Orleans, Maison Parzudaki, F Peron, 
Maison Petit, A. A. du Petit-Thouars, F 
Prevost, J. Pucheran, J. R. C. Quoy, R. H. 
Schomburgk, Maison Verreaux, L. P. Vieillot, 
Voy. Astrolabe, Voy. Astrolabe & Zelee, Voy. 
Coquille, Voy. Geographe, Voy. Naturaliste, 
Voy. Urania, Voy. Venus, K.Y. Yen 

approx. nr. of bird skins 161,000, incl. 
c.30,000 mounts (6,755 species: c.75% of all 
bird species) 

other bird items 8,000 skeletons, c. 2,000 birds 
in spirits, 300+ tissue samples, 5,000 egg sets, 
many nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins below 
100, from local birds skinned by own 
taxidermist and own expeditions (few at 

bird skin collection specialised in worldwide, 
but especially Afrotropics, Madagascar, China, 
SE Asia, Indonesia, Australia, Pacific islands, 
(sub)antarctic islands, C & S America; c. 2,620 
types, many extinct and endangered birds; 
8,500 skins from France 

card or computer system present types, 
skeletons, and bird skins from France on 

Pisa (MSNTP) 

Info from: M. Zuffi, 19 Nov 2001 
address Museo di Storia Naturale e del 

Territorio, Universita di Pisa, Via Roma 79, 1- 

56011 Calci (Pisa), Italy 
telephone #-39-50-937092, fax #-39-50- 

937778, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Marco A. L. 

Zuffi (Curator of Zoology and Comparative 

Anatomy of non-mammal vertebrates) 
total staff of bird dept See above 
brief history Founded about 1750, now belongs 

to the University of Pisa 
references to history, collections, or types Savi 

(1927-1929) (on Savi coll.), Secone & Zuffi 

(1996) (catalogue of nests and eggs) 
important past bird staff Paolo Savi 
important collections come from An 

anonymous person from Lucca (donated many 

local birds in early 1900s) 

approx. nr. of bird skins 10,000 (incl c.9,000 

other bird items 275 (partial) skeletons, 50 in 
alcohol, 1,100 eggs, 800 nests, 450 anatomical 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 15-20 

bird skin collection specialised in Italy, esp. 
Pisa area and Toscana region generally (e.g. the 
Savi coll., containing the types of several well- 
known European taxa, but Savi material is 
partly lost); also the Americas, C & S Africa, 
Middle East, SE Asia, Australia, with birds of 
virtually all families, incl. extinct birds like 
Fregilupus varius and Pinguinus impennis 

card or computer system present 3,500 birds 
on card and computer 

Prague/Praha (MNHP or NM Praha) 

Info from: Pavel Janda, 21 Jan 2000 

address Narodni Muzeum, Zoologicke oddeleni, 

Vaclavske namesti 68, CZ-1 1579 Praha 1, 

Czech Republic 
telephone #-42-2-2449 7224, fax #-42-2-2422 

6488, e-mail (Milos 

Andera, head of zool dept) 
staff responsible for bird coll. Pavel Janda 

(coll. manager), Pavel Kamenfk (assistant) 
total staff of bird dept See above 
brief history Founded 1818, owned by the 

references to history, collections, or types 

Varga (1973), Stepanek (1975) (history) 
important past bird staff Antonin Fric, Jan 

Hanzak, Jan Hora, Frantisek Pojer 
important collections come from C. von 

Feldegg, J. V Voboril, E. Holub, Duke L. von 

Habsburg, K. Knezourek, A. Horice, J. 

Musilek, J. von Seilern, K. Plachetka, B. K. 

Kinsky, J. Jirsik, F Hromadka, F Mocek, M. 

Vach, J. Urbanek, R. Prazny 
approx. nr. of bird skins 22,000 skins 
other bird items 120 skeletons, 900 sternums, 

4,400 egg sets; head and bones of a Dodo 

Raphus cucullatus, adult & juvenile of 

Pinguinus impennis, pair of Camptorhynchus 

labradorius, etc 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 10, 

from local birds and zoo specimens skinned by 

own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Bohemia, 

Balkan, E Siberia, South & North America, 

South Africa, New Guinea; Trochilidae (10,000 


C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

card or computer system present most on 
card, part o\' the mounts on computer 

Prerov (MOSPrerov) 

info from: Frantisek Hanak, 8 Dec 1999 

address Muzeum J. A. Komenskeho. Moravska 

ornitologicka stanice. Hornf namesti 1, 751 52 

Prerov. Czech Republic 
telephone #-420-641-219910 
staff responsible for bird coll. Frantisek Hanak 

(head). Jiljf Sitko (helminthology of birds) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 2 coll. 

managers. 1 taxidermist. 1 librarian, 1 other 
brief history Founded in 1970, owned by the 

references to history, collections, or types 

Hanak (1991). Sitko (1986, 1991, 1996); also 

Zprdvy MOS 37 (1979): 9-35 
important past bird staff Frantisek Hejl 
important collections come from F. Hejl, L. 

Holub. Zdenek Kluz, O. Lipecky, J. Rehurek, 

V. Sajdl. V. Tichy. Jin Toufar (eggs), Z. Verbis, 

E. S. Vraz 
approx. nr. of bird skins 6,100 (393 species) 

skins remaining after flooding of coll. in Jul 

other bird items 1,700 sternums (110 species), 

3.060 egg sets (12,665 eggs, of 181 species), 

14,000 trematodes of birds 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100, 

from own expeditions, donations, and local 

birds skinned by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Moravia, 

Czech Republic generally; also, 463 exotic 

birds (330 species). 
note The floods of July 1997 destroyed part of 

the original skin series and 50% of the books 

and journals. 
card or computer system present All on card, 

part on computer 

Reykjavik (IMNH /NHMR) 
Info from: JE. Petersen, 02 Aug 1996 
address Icelandic Institute of Natural History 

(Natturufraedistafnun Islands, formerly 

Icelandic Museum of Natural History), P.O. 

Box 5320, IS- 125 Reykjavik, Iceland (visitors 

address: Hlemmur 3) 
telephone #-354-56-29822, fax #-354-56- 

20815. e-mail ni^, or: 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr /Evar 


total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 taxidermist, 

c.l other (various part-time helpers) 
brief history Founded in 1889 by the Icelandic 

Natural History Society; to Iceland government 

from 1947 
references to history, collections, or types 

Petersen (1984) 
important past bird staff Finnur Gudmundsson 
important collections come from — 
approx. nr. of bird skins 14,000 (450 species) 
other bird items 1,500 skeletons, 100 in 

alcohol, 2,600 egg sets, 650 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 200, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist, 

own expeditions, and donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Iceland; 

Greenland, Faeroes 
card or computer system present 90% of skins 

on card and computer (these almost all 

Icelandic birds, but not rechecked yet to coll.) 

Rome/Roma (MZGZ) 

(questionnaire not returned; some info from C. 

Violani, 14 Nov 1999 & N. Baccetti 6 Apr 

address Museo Civico di Zoologia di Roma, Via 

Aldrovandi 18, 1-00197 Roma, Italy 
telephone and fax #-39-6-3216586, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. R. Carlini 

(head), B. Cignini 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 2 taxidermists 
brief history ? 
references to history, collections, or types 

Arrigoni degli Oddi (1929), Foschi et al. (1995, 

important past bird staff A. Carruccio 
important collections come from E. Arrigoni 

degli Oddi (10,373 skins), Antinori, F. Chigi 

della Rovere, M. Blanc, G. von Burg, Collett, 

Dal Nero, Lepri, Loria, G. B. Dinesen, Farren, 

Gallardo, M. Harms, Melloni, A. Owston, D. 

Rossi, W. Schliiter, R. Baron Snouckaert van 

Schauburg, R. von Thanner, V von Tschusi, 

Mus. Zagreb 
approx. nr. of bird skins 15,000 
other bird items ? 

approx. recent annual increase in skins ? 
bird skin collection specialised in Italy (esp. 

Veneto and Sardinia), Europe, Tunisia, Borneo, 

New Guinea 
card or computer system present the Arrigoni 

coll. is catalogued on computer 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

note A small coll. of 306 mounted birds, largely 
from Lazio with some from the remainder of 
Italy and 4 from abroad is owned by Prince 
Ruspoli, in the Palazzo Ruspoli di Cervetari in 
Roma (Avocetta 25: 153). 

Rotterdam (NMR) 

Info from: Kees Moeliker, 16 Oct 1999 
address Natuurmuseum Rotterdam, Westzeedijk 

345 (Museumpark), 3015 AA Rotterdam/ 

POBox 23452, 3001 KL Rotterdam, 

telephone #-31-10-4364 222, fax #31-10-4364 

399, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Drs C. W. 

('Kees') Moeliker (curator, also for other 

total staff of bird dept. C. W. Moeliker, Dr C. 

J. Heij (honorary curator), Dr E. J. O. 

Kompanje (honorary curator) 
brief history Founded 1920; owned by a 

society, the Vereniging Natuurmuseum 

references to history, collections, or types 

important past bird staff C. Eykman 
important collections come from Coll. of the 

Rotterdam Zoological Garden, received in 

1939, containing many important historical 

specimens from the Netherlands 
approx. nr. of bird skins 2,200 (including 

1,200 mounts) (c.350 species) 
other bird items 5,000 skeletons & skulls (300 

species), 300 birds in alcohol, 500 egg sets, 50 

buffered tissue samples 
approx. recent annual increase in skin/ 

skeleton coll. 250, from donations, exchanges, 

and local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Europe 

(especially the Netherlands), a few Indonesia; 

skeletons of Laridae 
card or computer system present 50% on card, 

10% on computer 


Info from: Svjetoslav Obratil & Denana 

Buturovic, 30 Dec 1999 
address Zemaljski Muzej Bosne i Hercegovina 

Sarajevo (National Museum of Bosnia and 

Herzegovina), Zmaja od Bosne 3, BiH-71000 

Sarajevo, Bosna i Hercegovina 

telephone #-387-71-668025 fax #-387-71- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Svjetoslav 

Obratil (curator of birds), Dr Drazen Kotrosan 

(bird scientist), Zuza Borivoje (bird 

taxidermist), Dr Denana Buturovic (director of 

entire museum) 
total staff of bird dept. See above 
brief history Founded as Landesmuseum fiir 

Bosnien-Hercegowina in 1888, with Otmar 

Reiser as first director (to 1914). Now owned 

by the Sarajevo Canton of the Federation of 

Bosnia and Herzegovina 
references to history, collections, or types 

Reiser (1891) 
important past bird staff Otmar Reiser, C. 

Floericke, L. von Fiihrer, K. Schilling von 

Canstatt, Dr Sijaric 
important collections come from Reiser's coll. 

of c.9,500 Balkan skins 
approx. nr. of bird skins 10,234 (incl. 1,255 

mounts) (over 400 species) 
other bird items 4,112 eggs (neglected since 

arrival in 1892), 90 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins ? 
bird skin collection specialised in Balkan 

countries and Greece; 696 exotic species 
card or computer system present none, only 

inventory books 

Sevenoaks (HZM) 

Info from: Paul Bates, 02 Apr 1997 
address The Harrison Zoological Museum, 

Bowerwood House, St Botolph's Road, 

Sevenoaks, Kent TNI 3 3AQ, England 
telephone & fax #-44-1732-742446, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Paul Bates 
total staff of bird dept. 1 part-time coll. 

manager (for entire coll., not for birds only) 
brief history Founded in 1920 as the private 

coll. of James M. Harrison; now a private 

charitable trust 
references to history, collections, or types 

none [but, e.g. Harrison (1953) was based on 

important past bird staff James M. Harrison, 

Jeffery Harrison, David Harrison 
important collections come from large private 

colls, of W. Payne and C. B. Ticehurst; also, 

skins of E. Flukiger, K. Kobayashi, P. Patev 

(Pateff), etc 

( \\. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

approx. nr. of bird skins 19,500 

other bird items a tew skeletons, nothing else 

approx. reeent annual increase in skins 2. 

local birds 
bird skin collection specialised in Palearctic; 

emphasis on ducks, waders, and passerines 
card or computer system present all on card 

s\ stem and on computer 

Seville/Sevilla (EBD) 

Into from: J. Cabot Nieves, 08 Aug 1996 
address Estacfon Biologica de Dofiana, Consejo 

Superior de Investigaciones Cientfficas 

(CSIC), Aptdo 1056, E-41080 Sevilla, Spain 

(visitors address: Avda. Maria Luisa s/n. 

Pabellon del Peru, E-41013 Sevilla) 
telephone #-34-95-4232340 (or -8, -9), fax #- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Jose (Pepe) 

Cabot Nieves 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 3 coll. 

managers, 2 taxidermists 
brief history Founded in 1970 by Dr J. A. 

Valverde; now managed by the Consejo 

Superior de Investigaciones Cientfficas (CSIC) 
references to history, collections, or types 

Cabot Nieves (1992) 
important past bird staff J. A. Valverde 
important collections come from Dr 

Castroviejo, Dr M. Delibes 
approx. nr. of bird skins 22,000 (1,574 

other bird items 1.000 skeletons, 575 in 

alcohol, 1,344 egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 1,000, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

and expeditions 
bird skin collection specialised in Spain, 

Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Western Sahara, 

Gabon, Equitorial Guinea, Sao Tome, Principe, 

Philippines, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, 

Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina 
card or computer system present all skins in 

catalogue book, c.75% on computer 

Sibiu (MBS) 

Info from: Doru Banaduc, 10 Dec 2001 
address Muzeul Brukenthal - Muzeul de Istorie 

Naturala, 1 Cetatii Street, RO-2400 Sibiu, 

telephone #-40-69-436868/ 09-2604338, e-mail 


staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Doru 

Banaduc (curator for all vertebrates) 
total staff of bird dept. See above 
brief history The natural history dept. of the 

museum was founded in 1849 by the 

Siebenbiirgischen Verein fiir 

Naturwissenschaften: now belongs to the 

Ministerul culturii of Romania 
references to history, collections, or types 

important past bird staff E. A. Bielz, F. W. 

Stetter, D. Czekelius sr., K. Fuss, C. F. Jickel, 

W. Knopfler, W. Hausmann, A. Midler, A. 

Neugeboren, E. Witting, A. von SpieB, C. 

Orendi, Alexius Buda, A. Kamner, D. 

Stanescu, H. Stein, C. Popescu, I. Wordinger 
important collections come from F. W. Stetter, 

J. Gromer, P. Theil, Adam Buda, J. F. & F. 

Binder, C. Melisca, K. Neugeboren, A. 

Senoner, R. Klement 
approx. nr. of bird skins 2,526 (of which 

c. 2,000 mounted) 
other bird items 594 skeletons & skulls, 1,575 

eggs, 603 birds in alcohol and nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 

strongly variable 
bird skin collection specialised in mainly 

regional, but also includes birds from 

elsewhere in Romania and Europe, and 429 

exotic birds 
card or computer system present both 

partially only 

Siena (MZAFS) 

Info from: N. Baccetti, 5 Apr 2000 

address Museo Zoologico dell'Accademia dei 
Fisiocritici, Piazza Sant'Agostino 4, 1-53100 
Siena, Italia 

telephone #-39-0577-47002, fax #-39-0577- 
47002, e-mail 

staff responsible for bird coll. Prof. Baccio 
Baccetti (supervisor of Zoological Museum), 
Fabrizio Cancelli (coll. manager and 
taxidermist), Dr Nicola Baccetti, Dr Francesco 
Pezzo (volunteer associates) 

total staff of bird dept. 1 coll. manager and 
taxidermist (for all animals) 

brief history Founded 1759 by G. Baldassarri; 
all pre- 1798 specimens destroyed by 
earthquake. Main period of activity 1 840— 
1910. Oldest published catalogue: Baldacconi 
(1845). The colls, were largely neglected 
during 1935-1970, but the museum re-opened 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

in 1972, when also old colls, of the University 

of Siena (dating from 1900-1930) were added 

and a modern taxidermy laboratory was 

references to history, collections, or types 

Ricci (1972), Baccetti (1885), Baccetti (1996), 

Cancelli et al. (in prep.) 
important past bird staff Massimiliano Ricca, 

Apelle Dei, Sigismondo Brogi 
important collections come from A. Dei, 

Baron B. Ricasoli, C. Passerini, with 327, 507, 

resp. 206 specimens still existing; a few 

duplicates from Savi (ante 1840). 
approx. nr. of bird skins 2,556 (810 species); 

mainly mounts 
other bird items a few skeletons 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 50, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

and donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Central Italy 

(1,099 birds from Tuscany). Coll. includes 

skins of several endangered birds (e.g. 

Numenius borealis, N. tenuirostris, Strigops 

habroptilus etc.) 
card or computer system present All on 

computer; several old partial catalogues 


Info from: Z. Boev, 04 Apr 1997, updated 13 

Nov 1999 and 10 Nov 2001 
address National Museum of Natural History, 

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Blv. Tsar 

Osvoboditel 1, BG-1000 Sofia, Bulgaria 
telephone #-359-2-9879326, fax #-359-2- 

9882897, e-mail nmnhzb@bgcict.acad .bg or 

boevzaro @ 
staff responsible for bird coll. Prof. Dr 

Zlatozar Boev (head of fossil and recent bird 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head/ coll. manager, 1 

secretary; also (for entire museum) 1 

taxidermist, 1 librarian 
brief history Founded in 1889 by King 

Ferdinand I Sachsen Coburg-Gotha of 

Bulgaria, grew rapidly but part of coll. lost in 

fire in March 1944; now belongs to the 

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences 
references to history, collections, or types 

Anon. (1907), Boev (1990, 1991, 1994, 1997) 
important past bird staff Ferdinand I of 

Bulgaria, P. Leverkuhn, Boris III of Bulgaria, 

K. Andersen, H. Gretzer, P. Patev, N. Boev, S. 

important collections come from Amede 

Alleon, Stuart Baker, H. von Boetticher, I. 

Buresch, E. Holub, Julius, E. Werner (700 

birds, from 19 countries) 
approx. nr. of bird skins 15,500 (incl. 4,155 

mounts) (1,200 species) 
other bird items 13,000 (sub)fossil remains 

(23% of the fossil bird species known), 2,000 

skeletons, 50 in alcohol, 260 egg sets, 12 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 20, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist; 

also, many fossils added 
bird skin collection specialised in Bulgaria, 

European Turkey (Alleon coll.), N Germany 

(Werner coll.), India; 11 Numenius tenuirostris 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card system, none on computer 


Info from: K. Skipnes, 31 Jan 2000 
address Stavanger Museum, Zoologisk 

Avdeling, Muse gt. 16, N-4010 Stavanger, 

telephone #-47-5 1 84 27 1 1 , fax #-47-5 1 84 270 1 , 

e-mail kolbjorn. skipnes @ website www. 
staff responsible for bird coll. Kolbj0rn 

Skipnes (curator), Olav Runde (head) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 curator, 1 

taxidermist, 1 secretary, 1 assistant (all for 

entire zoology coll.) 
brief history Founded 1 877 
references to history, collections, or types 

Skipnes (1989), Runde (1991) 
important past bird staff H. Tho. L. 

Schaanning, A. Berhhoft-Osa, Holger 

important collections come from J. Koren, 

Voy. Maud 
approx. nr. of bird skins 4,200 (944 species) 
other bird items ? 

approx. recent annual increase in skins ? 
bird skin collection specialised in Rogaland 

area (W Norway), Norway generally, Novaya 

Zemlya, Arctic Siberia 
card or computer system present all on card, 

part on computer 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Stockholm (NRM) 

Into form: P. Ericson. 31 Oct 1995, updated 13 

Nov 1999 
address Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, Research 

dept.. Sektionen tor Vertebratzoologi, Box 

50007. S- 10405 Stockholm. Sweden (visitors 

address: Frescativagen 44) 
telephone #-46-8-666-4000, fax #-46-8-666- 

4212. e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Per Ericson 

(head). Goran Frisk (coll. manager), Dr Carl 

Edelstam (retired, voluntary associate) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 coll. manager, 

3 taxidermists, 1 other 
brief history Founded in 1739 as cabinet of the 

Royal Academy of Sciences (under presidency 

of C. von Linne), but a real increase in the coll. 

size occurred only when a new building was 

erected 1819-1820, when also the private coll. 

of G. von Paykull arrived. A few hundreds of 

specimens from the last decades of the 

eighteenth century are still present. Now 

belongs to the Swedish government 
references to history, collections, or types 

Lonnberg (1926), Gyldenstolpe (1926) 
important past bird staff Anders Sparrman, 

Sven Nilsson, Carl J. Sundevall, Fredrik A. 

Smitt. Friedrich W. Meves, Einar Lonnberg, 

Nils Gyldenstolpe, Carl Edelstam 
important collections come from Adelborg, J. 

G. Anderson, K. Backstrom, O. Bamberg, C. 

Bangert, S. Bergman, Dr Bovallius, Von 

Carlsson, Eisenhofer, G. W. FreyreiB, S. H. 

Granvik, J. W. Grill, J. Hedenborg, S. Hedin, 

G von Hofsten, P. A. Hoist, G Kolthoff, K. E. 

Laman, S. Loven, E. P. Mjoberg, Nathorst, R. 

Nicolin, Nordenskiold, A. M. Ollala, H. 

Sandeberg, B. Y. Sjostedt, K. G. Soderbom, L. 

Soderstrom, P. Spatz, T. F. Tullberg, J. F. 

Victorin, Voy. Eugenie, Voy. Vega, J. A. 

Wahlberg, General Westin, G. de Wylder, O. 

Graf von Zedlitz (private coll. of c. 7, 500 skins, 

stored separately) 
approx. nr. of bird skins 105,000 (c.6-7,000 

other bird items 13,000 skeletons, 1,100 in 

alcohol. 27.000 egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 100 

skins & 900 skeletons/alcohol specimens, from 

expeditions and local birds skinned by own 

bird skin collection specialised in Sweden, 

Fenno-Scandia. Arctic (Greenland, Iceland, 

Svalbard, North European Russia), Iran, C & E 
Asia (Kamchatka, Kuril Is., Sakhalin, China, 
Mongolia, Tien Shan), Thailand, Malaya, N, 
NE, C & S Africa, New Guinea, Nicaragua, 
Galapagos Is., South America, Middle East 
card or computer system present all skins on 
card, 95% of skins, skeletons, and eggs on 

St Petersburg/Sankt-Peterburg 


Info from: V. Loskot, 25 Aug 1995 

address Zoologicheskii Institut, Rossiiskoi 
Akademii Nauk (Russian Academy of 
Sciences), dept of Ornithology, 
Universitetskaya nab. 1, 199034 Sankt- 
Peterburg, Russia 

telephone #-7-812-2180011, fax #-7-812-1 14- 
04444, e-mail SOA@ZISP.SPB.SU 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Vladimir M. 
Loskot (head), Dr L.V Firsova, A.V Panteleev, 
Dr A.M. Sokolov, Dr E.P Sokolov 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 coll. manager, 
3+ others 

brief history Founded in c. 1714 as private 
'Kunstkamer' of Peter the Great, but intense 
skin collectioning occurred only from c.1820 
onwards; from 1832, the coll. became part of 
the Zoological Museum of the Imperial 
Acadademy of Sciences (now Russian 
Academy of Sciences) 

references to history, collections, or types 
Neufeldt (1978), Scarlato (1982), Sokolov & 
Il'yashenko (1987) 

important past bird staff J. F. Brandt, T (= F. 
D.) Pleske, N. M. Przhevalskii, V. L. Bianchi, 
P. P. Sushkin, B. K. Stegmann, E. V. Kozlova, 
A. Ya. Tugarinov, L. A. Portenko, A. I. Ivanov, 
K. A. Yudin, I. A. Neufeldt 

important collections come from K. M. Baer, 
M. M. Berezowskii, T T. Brandt, Bykov, V. S. 
Elpatev, E. A. Eversmann, J. P. Falk, L. von 
Fiihrer, S. G. Gmelin, G. E. & M. E. Grum- 
Grzhimailo, J. A. Guldenstadt, C. L. Hablizl, F. 
H. von Kittlitz (754 specimens), P. K. Kozlov, 
K. Krebs, G. H. Baron von Langsdorff, I. 
Lepechin, R. K. Maak, M. A. Menzbier, C. 
Merck, A. von Middendorff, P. S. Pallas, M. V 
Pevtsov, G. N. Potanin, F. L. Potapov, G. 
Radde, J. Riedel, V I. Roborovskii, L. von 
Schrenck, N. A. Severtzov, L. M. Shulpin, G. 
W. Steller (1 certain specimen only), P. P. 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Sushkin, Voy. Nadezhda, Voy. Senyavin, I. G. 

Voznesenski, N. A. Zarudny 
approx. nr. of bird skins 170,000 (4,240 

other bird items 2,700 skeletons, 7,500 in 

alcohol, c. 20,000 eggs and nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 150, 

from own expeditions 
bird skin collection specialised in former 

Soviet-Union, Mongolia, China, Poland, 

Brazil, North Pacific 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card, alcohol and skeletons on computer. 

St Petersburg/Sankt-Peterburg 


Info from: Irina Savinich, 28 Jan 2000 
address Zoological Museum, Dept of Vertebrate 

Zoology, Faculty of Biology and Soil Sciences, 

St Petersburg State University, 

Universitetskaya nab. 7/9, 199034 Sankt- 

Peterburg, Russia 
telephone #-7-812-324 0885, fax #-7-812-328 

9689, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Irina 

Savinich (curator, senior lecturer) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 curator 
brief history Founded 1819, but real increase 

not until arrival of S. Kutorga in 1833 and 

especially K. Kessler in 1862. Now part of the 

references to history, collections, or types 

Shimkevich & Vagner (1899), Raykov (1953), 

Malchevsky & Polyansky (1969) (all on 

important past bird staff V. Andreevsky, Th. 

Pleske, W. Shimkevich, M. Bogdanov, A. 

Nikolsky, E. Buchner, V. Bianki, K. Derjugin, 

P. Kashkarov, L. Shulpin, A. Malchevsky 
important collections come from Prince Alexis 

of Russia, Bilkevich, Meves (eggs) 
approx. nr. of bird skins 4,500 (1,100 species), 

incl. mounts 
other bird items 150 skeletons, 150 spirit 

specimens, 140 frozen tissue samples, 800 egg 

sets, 100 nests, and 1,160 recordings of birds 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 40, 

from own expeditions, donations, and local 

birds skinned by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Russia, 

Central Asia 

card or computer system present part on card, 
with another part of the card system burnt in 
1995; computerisation just started 

Strasbourg (MZS) 

Info from: Elisabeth Lang, 6 Dec 2001 

address Musee zoologique de l'Universite 
Louis Pasteur et de la Ville de Strasbourg, 29 
Boulevard de la Victoire, F-67000 Strasbourg, 

telephone #-33-3-90-240489 or -90, fax #-33-3- 
90-240558, e-mail, 

staff responsible for bird coll. Mme Elisabeth 
Lang (head conservator), Marie-Dominique 
Wandhammer (birds) 

total staff of bird dept. 2 (see above) 

brief history Based on a coll. of c.900 birds of 
Johann Hermann, started in 1760 (but few of 
these remain), later bought by the Ville de 
Strasbourg and serving as a base for a museum; 
still belongs to the city of Strasbourg but 
jointly curated by the university and city 

references to history, collections, or types 
Koenig (1993, 1994) (catalogues of 
Madagascar birds and Anseriformes) 

important past bird staff P. Koenig, O. 

important collections come from Von Berg, 
Berger, G. A. Frank, Lantz, Mus. Saint-Denis 
(Reunion), Pougnet, Pouillet, G. Schneider, 
Sicard, Ursch, Wehrung 

approx. nr. of bird skins 18,000 (incl. mounts) 

other bird items 50 (partial) skeletons, 17 in 
liquid, 2,000 eggs sets, 300 nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 20 

bird skin collection specialised in worldwide 
(e.g. over 300 from Madagascar), all families 
(e.g. 720 ducks of 120 species); includes 
extinct birds like Camptorhynchus labradorius 
and Rhodonessa caryophyllacea 

card or computer system present all on card 

Stuttgart (SMNS) 

Info from: M. Grabert, 06 Nov 1996; updated 

Friederike Woog, 1 1 Jan 2002 
address Staatliches Museum fur Naturkunde, 

Rosenstein 1, D-70191 Stuttgart, Germany 

(visitors address: Museum SchloB Rosenstein) 
telephone tel. #-49-711-8936-253, fax #-49- 

711-8936-200, e-mail woog.smns@ 

C.S. RoscLuir 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

staff responsible for collection Dr Claus Konig 

(director), Dr Friederike Woog (curator of 

birds). Severine Mattes (taxidermist). Holger 

Haag (scientific assistant) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 curator. 1 coll. 

manager. 1 taxidermist. 5 volunteers 
brief history Founded in 1791 by Herzog C.-E. 

von Wurttemberg: now belongs to the 

government of Baden-Wiirttemberg 
references to history, collections, or types Van 

den Elzen & Konig (1983), Konig (1991) 
important past bird staff Ernst Schiiz. M. 

important collections come from T. Andersen, 

C. von Barth, A. Boucard, Chevalier, Coll. 

Duoc. Duve, Elliot, A. Fischer (6,000 skins), G. 

Frank, K. Fritsche. W. & P. Gatter, H. Griin, H. 

Gude. Th. von Heuglin, H. von Hochstetter, G. 

Hoy. A. Kappler, C. F. H. Baron von Ludwig, 

H. Moschler, F. von Miiller, G. Nikolaus, W. 

Salzmann, F. Sarg, W. Schluter, F. K. I. Streich, 

Herzog Paul von Wurttemberg 
approx. nr. of bird skins 70,000, incl. 15,000 

mounts (5.500 species) 
other bird items 6,000 (partial) skeletons, 

10.000 egg sets, 1,000 nests, 8,000 spread 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 200, 

from expeditions, local birds skinned by own 

taxidermist, and buying of colls. 
bird skin collection specialised in Palearctic, 

South America (e.g. Surinam), Liberia, 

Tanzania, and many other parts of the world 
card or computer system present most skins 

on card, c.50% on computer 


Info from: Rainer Ilisson, 13 January 2000 
address Zooloogia muuseum/ Museum of 
Zoology, Tartu Ulikool/Tartu University, 
Vanemuise Str. 46, EE-51014 Tartu, Estonia 
telephone #-372-7-375833, e-mail,, webpage 
staff responsible for bird coll. Rainer Ilisson 
(birds). Jaan Luig (chief curator all animals) 
total staff of bird dept. I (see above) 
brief history Founded 1 802, but the coll. was 
mainly formed in 1905-1912 (when birds from 
various parts of Russia arrived) and in 1920s- 
1930s and 1950s (largely birds from Estonia). 
Owned by University of Tartu 

references to history, collections, or types 

Ilisson (1992) (skins), Ong (1996) (eggs) 
important past bird staff V. Russow, M. 

Harms, J. Piiper, J. Lepiksaar, E. Kumari 
important collections come from A. Graf 

Keyserling, O. von Koch (eggs & nests), both 

private, and the coll. of the Institute of Zoology 

and Botany of the Academy of Sciences of 

Estonia (Dr Vilju Lilleleht) 
approx. nr. of bird skins 8,500 (over 800 

other bird items 2,000 skeletons (c.150 

species), c. 3,000 egg sets (357 species), 100 

approx. recent annual increase in skins a few 
bird skin collection specialised in Estonia; 

former Soviet Union generally 
card or computer system present skins and 

eggs on card, but not skeletal material 


Info from: N. Vitale, 25 Aug 1997 

address Museo di Storia Naturale di Terrasini, 

Via Cala Rossa 14, 90049 Terrasini (Palermo), 

Sicilia, Italy 
telephone #-39-091-868 2497, fax #-39-091- 

868 2420 
staff responsible for bird coll. Sig. Nino Vitale 

(curator), Bruno Massa (pres. Scient. Com.), 

Vittorio E. Orlando, Marcello Arnone 

(honorary curators) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 taxidermist, 1 

brief history Founded c. 1928-1930 by C. 

Orlando; now, the buildings owned by the 

Municipality of Terrasini, the colls, by the 

Sicily Region 
references to history, collections, or types 

Arnone & Orlando (1990), Massa (1977), 

Orlando (1978, 1990a,b, 1991, 1995a,b) 
important past bird staff C. Orlando 
important collections come from Sig. Ajola, 

M. Arnone, M. Jannizzotto, C. & V. E. 

Orlando, A. Trischitta, F. Venezia, A. Vitale 
approx. nr. of bird skins 8,000 (600 species) 
other bird items 25 skeletons, 15 in alcohol, 

150 egg sets, 316 nests, 4,000 various 
approx. recent annual increase in skins ?, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Sardinia, 

Sicily, mainland Italy, Europe. Together 5,781 

birds from coll. C. Orlando, 1,895 coll. A. 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Trischitta, 284 coll. M. Jannizzotto, and 120 
coll. A. Vitale; types of 14 taxa 
card or computer system present all skins on 
card and computer 

Tervuren (KMMA / MRAC) 

Info from: M. Louette, 25 Jan 1995 
address Koninklijk Museum voor Midden- 

Afrika / Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, 

Steenweg op Leuven 13, B-3080 Tervuren, 

telephone #-32-2-769521 1, fax #-32-2- 

7670242, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Michel 

Louette (head), M. Herremans, W. Plompen 

M.Sc, P. Herroelen (volunteer) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 0.2 coll. 

manager, 0.25 secretary 
brief history Founded in 1 897 to house colls. 

made in Central African colonies. Belongs to 

the Belgian government 
references to history, collections, or types 

Louette (1980) 
important past bird staff H. Schouteden, J. P. 

Chapin, A. Prigogine, A. de Roo 
important collections come from Bonnevie, 

Hutsebaut, F. J. Jackson, C. M. de la Kethulle, 

Captain Pauwels, A. Pillette, Voy. C. Christy, 

Voy. Rosenberg (G. L. Bates, W. J. Ansorge, 

Usscher), A. F. G. Weyns, G F de Witte 
approx. nr. of bird skins 150,000 (over 8,000 

other bird items 500 skeletons, 15,000 in 

alcohol, 1,500 egg sets, 400 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 400, 

from expeditions and donations 
bird skin collection specialised in Central 

Africa; all Afrotropical families 
card or computer system present part of skins 

on card, soon on computer 

Torino see Turin 
Toulouse (MHNT) 

Info from: Pierre Dalous, 20 Dec 2001 
address Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 

Toulouse, 35 Allees Jules Guesde, F-31000 

Toulouse, France 
telephone #-33-5-61-479225, fax #-33-5-61- 

554275, e-mail pierre. dalous @mairie- 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Pierre 


total staff of bird dept. 1 (for all vertebrates) 
brief history Founded in about 1900; owned by 

references to history, collections, or types - 
important past bird staff - 
important collections come from V. Besaucele, 

R. Bourret, G Cossaune, M. Gourdon, 

Hammonville, A. Lacroix, Reboussin 
approx. nr. of bird skins 8,900 (incl. 7,500 

other bird items c. 2,000 skeletons & skulls, 

5,300 eggs 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 20 
bird skin collection specialised in Europe 

(especially France), but also a fair number of 

exotic species 
card or computer system present All on 

computer, except skeletons/ skulls 

Tring (BMNH or NHM) 

Info from : R. Prys-Jones, 18 Nov 1994, F 
Steinheimer 22 Nov 2001 

address The Natural History Museum, Bird 
Group, Akeman Street, Tring (Herts) HP23 
6AP, U.K. 

telephone #-44-207-942-6158, fax # -44-207- 
942-6150, e-mail (preferably) bird- 
enquiries® or (direct) R.Prys-,,,,, 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Robert Prys- 
Jones (head), Mark Adams (skins & loans), 
Michael Walters (eggs & nests), Jo Cooper 
(alcohol, skeletons), Frank Steinheimer 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 4 curators 

brief history Founded in 1753 as private coll. of 
Hans Sloane; now belongs to the government 

references to history, collections, or types 
Sharpe (1874-1898, 1885, 1906), Warren etal 
(1966-1973), Blandamer & Burton (1979), 
Stearn (1981), Knox & Walters (1992, 1994), 
Steinheimer (in press b) 

important past bird staff G. Shaw, W. E. 
Leach, J. E. Gray, G. R. Gray, P. L. Sclater, R. 
Bowdler Sharpe, W. R. Ogilvie-Grant, P. R. 
Lowe, N. Kinnear, D. Snow, B. P. Hall, D. 
Goodwin, C. J. O. Harrison, I. C. J. Galbraith, 
P. R. Colston 

important collections come from A. L. Adams, 
J. Aitchison, B. Alexander, J. Anderson, F B. 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Armstrong, I). A. Bannerman, G. L. Bates. R. 
C. Beavan. J. Biddulph. C. T. Bingham. W. 
Blanford, \Y. Blewitt. W. E. Brooks, G. Brown. 

F. Briiggemann, A. Buchanan. W. Buller. A. L. 
Butler, E. A. Butler. G. Caley. D. Carruthers. R. 
E. Cheesman. W. N. Chill. A. F. Christison. 
Miss CockburjQ, J. Cockerell, Capt. P. Conrad. 
J. Cook. W. D. Cowan. C. & S. Coxen. J. N. 
Cripps. P. Crowley. H. Cuming, J. W. N. 
Cumming. C. R. Darwin, C. Davison, W. R. 
Davison. J. Delacour, P. M. Diard. F. Dorries, 
H. Durnford. Emin Pasha, A. H. Everett, T. C. 
Eyton. H. W. Feilden, H. O. Forbes, A. D. 
Forbes-Watson, D. Forsyth, L. Fraser, E. 
Gerrard, J. Gilbert, F. D. Godman, H. H. 
Godwin-Austen, A. Goldie, W. Goodfellow, P. 
Gosse, J. Gould, C. H. B. Grant, J. H. Gurney, 
E. Hargitt, H. H. Harington, E. Hartert, G. 
Henderson, H. W. Henshaw, B. H. Hodgson, P. 
A. Hoist, T. Horsfield, A. O. Hume, India 
Mus.. C. Ingram, F. J. Jackson, H. B. James, T. 
C. Jerdon, H. H. Johnston, E. G. Johnstone, F. 
C. R. Jourdain (eggs), H. J. Kelsall, J. Kirk, C. 
Boden Kloss, C. L. Landbeck, J. D. D. La 
Touche, E. & L. Layard, Linnean Society of 
London, J. J. Lister, C. Livingstone, W. L. 
Lloyd, G. Loddiges, W. P. Lowe, F. Ludlow, H. 
Lynes, J. MacGillivray, L. Mandelli, C. H. T. 
Marshall, J. McClelland, E. McConnell, R. 
Meinertzhagen, A. B. Meyer, G Montagu, H. 
Moseley. J. Murray, E. Newton, E. W. Oates, 
A. Owston, Capt. Pemberton, H. Philby, S. 
Pinwill, J. Polatzek, H. Pryer, T. S. Raffles, S. 

G. Reid, W. B. Richardson, C. B. Rickett, 
Comte de Riocour, G. Rippon, H. C. Robinson, 
A. W. Roepstorff, W. F. H. Rosenberg, E. 
Ruppell, O. B. St John, O. Salvin, H. Saunders, 
R. H. Schomburgk, W. E. D. Scott, J. Scully, H. 
Seebohm. W. Serle. R. Shaw, F. Shaw Mayer, 
G. E. Shelley, G Sherriff, H. H. Slater, A. 
Smith, H. Smith, L. Sowerby, W. Stalker, J. K. 
Stanford, S. Stevens, F Stoliczka, C. Sturt, F. 
W. Styan, R. Strachey, C. & R. Swinhoe, W. H. 
Sykes. Tangier-Smith coll., W. R. Thompson, 
C. B. Ticehurst, S. Tickell, H. B. Tristram 
(eggs). Marquis of Tweeddale, J. Vincent, Voy. 
Alert, Voy. Blossom, Voy. Challenger, Voy. 
hrebus & Terror. Voy. Herald, Voy. 
Rattlesnake, Voy. Sulphur, A. R. Wallace, H. 
Walton, A. E. Ward, R. G Wardlaw-Ramsay, J. 
Waterstradt, E. Weiske, H. Whistler, J. I. S. 
Whitaker. C. H. T Whitehead, J. Whitehead, A. 
Whyte, E. Wilson, A. W. S. Wingate, H. F. 

Witherby. A. F. R. Wollaston, C. M. Woodford, 
C. K. Worthen, J. W. Yerbury, Zoological 
Society of London (L. Fraser, J. Gilbert, J. 
Gould, T Horsfield, Raffles, N. Vigors, Voy. 
Beagle, G R. Waterhouse), and many others 

approx. nr. of bird skins 750,000 (8,492 
species), excluding 6,000 mounts 

other bird items 15,187 (partial) skeletons 
(2,600 species), 17,135 in spirit (3,300 
species), 4-500,000 egg sets, 2,000 nests 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 200, 
from local birds skinned by staff and donations 

bird skin collection specialised in world-wide, 
all families 

card or computer system present most egg 
sets on card, 33,000 skins and 24,000 egg sets 
on computer (e.g. skins of all extinct and 
endangered birds, most types, all Mexican and 
Spanish birds, and most Australian birds and 
Nectariniidae); types on museum web page 

Troms0 (TSZV) 

Info from: Robert Barrett, 26 Nov 2001 
address Universitets Museet i Troms0, Zoology 

Dept., Lars Th0ringsvei 10, NO-9037 Troms0, 

telephone #-47-77-645013/5010, fax #-47-77- 

645520, e-mail, 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Robert 

Barrett (for all zoology) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 (see above) 
brief history Founded 1872; part of Troms0 

references to history, collections, or types - 
important past bird staff W. Vader 
important collections come from — 
approx. nr. of bird skins 4,100 
other bird items 512 (partial) skeletons, 890 

egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 20- 

bird skin collection specialised in Northern 

Norway, Spitsbergen, Arctic regions generally 
card or computer system present All bird 

items on card and computer 


Info from: O. Hogstad, 09 Apr 1997 
address Museum of Natural History & 

Archaeology, Institute of Natural Histoy, dept. 

of Zoology, Norw. Univ. of Science and 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Technology NTNU, N-7004 Trondheim, 

Norway (visitors: Vitenskapsmuseet, Erling 

Skakesgt. 47) 
telephone #-47-7-3592207, fax #-47-7- 

3592295, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Olav 

Hogstad (head zoology dept) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 taxidermist 
brief history Founded in 1760 by J. E. 

Gunnerus and Det Kongelige Norske 

Videnskabens Selskab; now part of NTN 

references to history, collections, or types — 
important past bird staff Y. Hagen, S. Haftorn 
important collections come from — 
approx. nr. of bird skins 3,200 (450 species) 
other bird items a few skeletons and birds in 

alcohol, 400 eggs, 50 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 150, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in c.3,000 skins 

from Norway (mainly central), 200 exotic 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card and computer 

T\irin/Torino (MRSN) 

Info from: C. Pulcher, 20 Nov 1996, some add. 

Dario Zuccon, 16 Oct 2002 
address Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali, 

Via Giolitti 36, 1-10123 Torino, Italy 
telephone #-39-0 1 1 -432-300 1 , fax #-39-011- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Elena Gavetti 

(head of entire zoology section), Claudio 

Pulcher (part-time contractor for birds) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head (also for other 

sections), 1 temporary coll. manager, 1 

temporary taxidermist 
brief history Founded in c. 18 15, when Bonelli 

started the bird section of the Museum of 

Zoology of Torino University; now, the 

museum building is owned and the coll. 

managed by the government of the Regione 

Piemonte, but part of the bird coll. is owned by 

Torino University. 
references to history, collections, or types 

Salvadori (1914), Tortonese (1957), Passerin 

d'Entreves et al. (1986), Elter (1986), Violani 

etal. (1997) 
important past bird staff F. A. Bonelli, G. 

Gene, F. De Filippi, A. T Salvadori 
important collections come from L. M. 

D'Albertis (c.380 birds), O. Antinori (c. 1,000 

birds), O. Beccari (c.350 birds), A. Borelli 
(1,000+ birds), A. A. Bruijn, Bullock coll./ 
Mus. Leverianum (see Vienna/Wien), G. Doria, 
L. Fea, E. Festa (4,100+ birds), E. H. Giglioli, 
L. Loria, Marquis of La Marmora, E. 
Modigliani, V. Ragazzi (c.700 birds), Count 
Solaroli, Voy. Magenta (F. de Filippi & E. H. 
Giglioli; c. 1,150 birds), duplicates from the 
colls, of Gould, Riippell, Savi, Swinhoe, 
Temminck, and others 
approx. nr. of bird skins 21,000 (3,000 

other bird items over 100 skeletons and eggs 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 
bird skin collection specialised in Italy, 
Wallacea & West New Guinea (c. 1,000 skins), 
Libya to Ethiopia (over 4,000 skins), South 
America (c.4,000 skins), Middle East (e.g. 
Iran), Himalayas, Burma, South Pacific; c.300 
type specimens 
card or computer system present a modernised 
version of the catalogue of Elter (1986) is on 

Uppsala (ZMUU) 

Info from: M. Eriksson, Mar 1998 

address Evolutionsmuseet, Zoologi-sektionen, 

Uppsala Universitet, Norbyvagen 16, S-75236 

Uppsala (visitors: Villavagen 9), Sverige 
telephone #-46-4712668, fax #-46-4712794, e- 

mail mats.eriksson@ 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Mats 

total staff of bird dept. 5 (for entire zoology 

brief history ? 
references to history, collections, or types 

Wallin & Wallin (1994) (history), Wallin 

(1996, 1997) (types) 
important past bird staff Sven Horstadius 
important collections come from A. W. 

Eriksson, L. A. Jagerskiold, G. Kolthoff, A. 

Kovacs, T Kumlien, M. Lagerstrom, W. 

Lilljeborg, C. von Linne, Melbourne Mus., D. 

Melin, B. Morner, B. Pettersson, C. P. 

Thunberg, J. A. Wahlberg, General Westin, A. 

E. & J. G. Williams 
approx. nr. of bird skins 6,900 
other bird items ? 

approx. recent annual increase in skins ? 
bird skin collection specialised in Sweden 

(c.3,100, mainly Uppland, Skane, Oland), 

Brazil (378), Svalbard (342), Greenland & 

C.S. RoscLuir 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Faeroes (c. 140 each). South Africa (188), 
Australia (183). Norway (c. 1 10). Russia (104), 
USA (95), New Guinea (77) 
card or computer system present all skins on 

Venice/Venezia (MCSNV) 

Info from: M. Bon. 17 Jul 1996 

address Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di 

Venezia, S. Croce 1730, Fontegna dei Turchi, I- 

30135 Venezia, Italy 
telephone #-39-041-524-0885, fax #-39-041- 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Mauro Bon 

(head). Dr Giuseppe Cherubini , Massimo 

Semenzato (both volunteer associates) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head 
brief history Founded in 1923 by the 

Municipality of Venezia (Venice), but includes 

older colls.; still owned by Municipality of 

references to history, collections, or types 

Rallo(1988), Bon etal. (1993) 
important past bird staff — 
important collections come from G. Bisacco 

Palazzi, Conte A. R Ninni 
approx. nr. of bird skins 2,500 (400 species) 
other bird items some skeletons, alcohol 

specimens, and egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins a few 
bird skin collection specialised in north-east 

Italy, North Africa 
card or computer system present part of skin 

coll. on card 

Verona (MSNVR) 

Info from: Roberta Salmasa, 22 Dec 1999 
address Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, 

Lungadige Porta Vittoria 9, 1-37129 Verona, 

telephone #-39-(0)45-8079400, fax #-39-(0)45- 

8035639, e-mail leonardo_latella@, roberta_salmaso@ 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Leonardo 

Latella (curator), Roberta Salmaso (technician) 

(both of entire zoology dept) 
total staff of bird dept. see above 
brief history Founded c.1906, oldest birds from 

c. 1 850 (no birds remaining from earlier Verona 

museums which latter date back to 1571); 

owned by the Commune (Municipality) di 

references to history, collections, or types Dal 

important past bird staff V Dal Nero, S. Rufo 
important collections come from De Betta, 

Perini, Carraro, Cipolla, Dal Fiume, Zangheri's 

approx. nr. of bird skins 5,000 (600 species) 
other bird items a few eggs and nests, 400 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 1-2, 

local birds 
bird skin collection specialised in north-east 

and central Italy, Eritrea (c.500 birds); includes 

1 type: Cryptolopha erytreae 
card or computer system present A large part 

on card and computer, but neither complete 

Vienna see Wien 

Warsaw /Warszawa (MZPW for coll., 
MIZ PAN for Institute) 

Info from: Tomasz Huflejt, 22 Dec 1999 
address Museum and Institute of Zoology, P. A. 

N. (Polish Academy of Sciences), Ul. Wilcza 

64, PL-00 679 Warszawa, Poland 
telephone #-48-629-3221 , fax #-48-629-6302 , 

staff responsible for bird collection Tomasz 

Huflejt (entomologist, head of collection 

total staff of bird dept. No ornithologists; 

entire staff of coll. division: 1 head and 3 

brief history A combination of the cabinet of F. 

P. Jarocki (from 1819) and the private coll. of 

Constantin & Xaver Graf von Branicki 

(founded 1887), which latter came to 

government in 1919 (with Domaniewski as 

first director of the combination); now belongs 

to the Polish Acad, of Sciences 
references to history, collections, or types 

Kazubski (1996) (history), Sztolcman & 

Domaniewski (1927) (type list) 
important past bird staff L. Taczanowski, B. 

Dybowski, J. Sztolcman (Stolzmann), K. 

Jelski, J. Kalinowski, M. Jankowski, T. 

Chrostowski, J. Domaniewski, A. Dunajewski, 

S. Zielinski 
approx. nr. of bird skins 40,000 (incl. c. 5,000 

mounts) (3,000 species) 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

other bird items many eggs sets; a few 
skeletons, birds in alcohol, nests, etc.; 380 

approx. recent annual increase in skins About 
none in the last 30 year 

bird skin collection specialised in Poland, 
Belarus, Ukraine, European Russia (esp. 
Caucasus area), Turkey, Uzbekistan, East Asia, 
China, Mongolia, Korea, Vietnam, South 
America (esp. Peru) 

card or computer system present All as a list 
on paper and computer, but nomenclatorially 
partly outdated and with many misspellings 

Wien (NMW) 

Info from: Ernst Bauernfeind, 19 Jan 1995, 
updated 10 Nov 2001 

address Naturhistorisches Museum, 1 . 
Zoologische Abteilung - Vogelsammlung, 
Burgring 7, A- 10 14 Wien, Austria/ Osterreich 

telephone #-43-1-52177-295, 296, or 499, fax 
#-43-1-52177-364, e-mail 
vogelsammlung @ nhm-,, hans- 
martin.berg® nhm- webpage 

staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Ernst 
Bauernfeind (head), Dr Anita Gamauf, Hans- 
Martin Berg, Dr Herbert Schifter (retired, 

total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 1 ass. curator, 1 
secretary, 1 taxidermist 

brief history Founded in 1793 by Emperor 
Franz I of Austria, when he acquired the coll. 
of his retired falconer J. Natterer; now 
government-owned; oldest specimens from 
James Cook (2 nd voyage, c.1773) 

references to history, collections, or types von 
Pelzeln (1870, 1873, 1890), von Pelzeln & 
Lorenz (1886-88), Keve (1948), Keve & 
Rokitansky (1966), Schifter & Van den Elzen 
(1986), Schifter (1990, 1992a,b, 1993, 1994, 
1996), Bauernfeind (1995), Schneider & 
Bauernfeind (1998), Schifter & Violani (1999) 

important past bird staff Joseph Natterer Sr. & 
Jr., J. Heckel, A. von Pelzeln, J. Zelebor, C. E. 
Hellmayr, C. von Schreibers, F Steindachner, 
L. Lorenz von Liburnau, M. Sassi, G. 
Niethammer, G. von Rokitansky, H. Schifter 

important collections come from Graf Almasy, 
F. L. Bauer, W. Bojer, C. L. Brehm, W. Bullock 
coll. [which included part of the colls, of J. 
Banks, James Cook, J. R. & G. Forster, J. 

Latham, G Montagu, R. Solander, W. 
Swainson, Voy. Endeavour, Voy. Resolution; 
these colls, in part from the former Mus. 
Leverianum. The Bullock coll. was sold in 
1819 to the museums of Berlin, Edinburgh, 
Glasgow, Leiden, Paris and Turin, and to the 
private colls, of the Earl of Derby (now in 
Liverpool), Sabine, W. Swainson, N. Vigors, 
etc.], F. Deppe, R. von Dombrowski, C. W. R. 
van Duivenbode, Emin Pascha [see Bremen], 
O. Finsch, A. Fischer, G. W. FreyreiB, L. von 
Fuhrer, R. Grauer, J. von Haast, J. Hector, T. 
von Heuglin, F. von Hochstetter, D. S. Hoedt, 
C. von Hiigel, J. Jacquin, P. Knoblecher, T. 
Kotschy, M. Markl, A. B. Meyer, H. Moschler, 
Mus. Berlin (Lichtenstein, Hemprich & 
Ehrenberg), Mus. Leiden (Temminck, 
Schlegel), Mus. Leverianum [with the colls, of 
A. Lever, J. Banks, J. Cook, J. R. & G. Forster, 
R. Solander, Voy. Endeavour, Voy. Resolution. 
The Lever Museum coll. was sold in 1806 to, 
among others, the Wien Mus., to the Earl of 
Derby and from there to Liverpool Mus., and 
to W. Bullock], Joh. Natterer, E. Parzudaki, Ida 
Pfeiffer, J. Polatzek, N. M. Przhevalskii 
(duplicates), A. Reischek, O. Reiser, G. 
Schiebel, C. J. W. Schiede, F. Schillinger, W. 
Schimper, J. von Seilern, F. Sellow, F. 
Stoliczka, R. Swinhoe, J. J. von Tschudi, V 
Tschusi zu Schmidhoffen, Underwood, 
Verreaux, Voy. Novara, E. Weiske, O. von 
Wettstein, Zimmer, and many others 

approx. nr. of bird skins 104,300 (incl. 
c. 10,000 mounts); c. 7,000 species 

other bird items 8,000 skeletons, 10,000 egg 
sets, 1,000 nests, many feather sets, a bone 
reference coll., bird sound recordings, etc. 

approx. recent annual increase in skins 500- 
1,000, from local birds skinned by own 
taxidermist, donations, and buying of colls. 

bird skin collection specialised in Austria, 
Hungary, Balkan countries, Jan Mayen, Egypt, 
Sudan, Ethiopia, C & E Africa, Madagascar, 
Himalayas, Tibet, S India, Sri Lanka, 
Philippines, Sulawesi, Ambon, Australia, 
Norfolk IsL, New Zealand, C & S America 
(especially Brazil: over 13,000 skins from 
Natterer, etc), Haiti; over 1,000 types (list in 

card or computer system present skeletons 
and mounts on card and computer; most eggs 
on computer, but only 10% of skins 

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Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Wiesbaden (MWHN) 

Into from: Fritz Geller-Grimm. 6 Dec 2001 
address Landesmuseum Wiesbaden. 

Naturwissenschaftlichen Sammlung, Friedrich- 

Ebert-Allee 2. D-65185 Wiesbaden, Germany. 
telephone #-49-6 1 1 -335-2 1 70/ -2 1 78/ -2 1 82. 

fax #-49-61 1-3352192. e-mail nws@museum- 

staff responsible for bird coll Dr Volkert 

Rattemeyer (head). Fritz Geller-Grimm (coll. 

total staff of bird dept. 2 (for entire vertebrate 

coll., see above) 
brief history Founded 1829: owned by the 

references to history, collections, or types 

Romer (1863, 1879, 1892), Lampe (1904- 

important past bird staff C. Fetzer, E. Lampe, 

F. Neubaur, A. Romer, E. Zenker 
important collections come from A. A. Bruijn, 

C. Feldmann. A. Fischer, E. A. Fritze, B. Lyon, 

B. De Mons, J. W. von Midler, F. Odernheimer, 

O. Rau, C. Thoma, J. Weiler 
approx. nr. of bird skins 6,800 (incl. mounts) 
other bird items 150 (partial) skeletons, 6,000 

egg sets, 100 fossil birds 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 50 
bird skin collection specialised in many areas, 

but mainly C Europe 
card or computer system present All on card, 

computer in progress (soon on www.nws- 

Wilhelmshaven (IfV) 

Info from: Prof. Dr F. Bairlein, 31 Jan 2000 
address Institut fur Vogelforschung "Vogelwarte 

Helgoland', An der Vogelwarte 21, D-26386 

Wilhelmshaven-Rustersiel, Germany 
telephone #-49-(0)442 1-96890, fax #-49- 

(0)4421-968955, e-mail 


staff responsible for bird coll. Rolf Nagel (coll. 

manager). Franz Bairlein (director) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 5 scientists, 1 

coll. manager, 1 taxidermist, 19 others (incl 

ringing staff and staff for migration studies and 

ecological research) 
brief history Founded in 1843 by Heinrich 

Gatke on Helgoland, moved to Wilhelmshaven 

in 1947: owned by government of 


references to history, collections, or types H. 

Bub (1985) Orn. Mitt. 37: 38-47. 
important past bird staff H. Weigold, R. Drost, 

F Goethe, H. Bub 
important collections come from 

Nordseemuseum Helgoland , Heinrich Gatke, 

Hugo Weigold 
approx. nr. of bird skins 5,500 (550 species), 

incl. many mounts (on show in Heinrich- 

other bird items 300 partial skeletons (skulls, 

sternums, etc), many eggs of c. 270 species, 

120 nests 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 75, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 
bird skin collection specialised in Germany, 

China; migratory birds 
card or computer system present partly on 

computer (system old) 

Wroclaw (MPUW) 

Info from: T. Stawarczyk, 31 Jan 1995 
address Muzeum Przyrodnicze (Museum of 

Nat. Hist.), Uniwersytet Wroclawski (Univ. of 

Wroclaw), Sienkiewicza 21, 50-335 Wroclaw, 

telephone #-48-71-3754149, fax #-48-71- 

3225044, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Prof. Ludwik 

Tomialojc (head), Dr Tadeusz Stawarczyk, Mr 

Jan Lontkowski (coll. managers) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 2 coll. 

brief history Founded in 1814 by J. L C. 

Gravenhorst; now part of University of 

references to history, collections, or types 

Gravenhorst (1832) 
important past bird staff E. Grube, F. 

Tiemann, C. Zimmer 
important collections come from P. Kollibay 

(2,500 skins), O. Natorp, W. Volz, etc. 
approx. nr. of bird skins 12,000 (2,000 

other bird items 1 36 skeletons, 2,000 egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 5-10, 

from local birds skinned by own staff 
bird skin collection specialised in Poland, 

Palearctic, Java, Sumatra, New Guinea, Brazil 
card or computer system present none 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Zagreb (ZZO) 

Info from: Davor Cikovic, 20 Dec 1999 
address Zavod za Ornitologiju /Institute of 

Ornithology (ZZO), Hrvatske Akademije 

Znanosti i Umjetnosti, Ilirski trg. 9, 10000 

Zagreb, Hrvatska (Croatia) 
telephone & fax #-385-1-4851 322, e-mail 
staff responsible for bird coll. Davor Cikovic, 

total staff of bird dept. 5 scientists (Dr G. 

Susie, Dr J. Muzinic, Dr V. Tutis, J. Kralj, D 

Radovic), 1 curator (D. Cikovic) 
brief history Founded 1938, with A. Mastrovic 

as first director; part of the Croatian Academy 

of Sciences and Arts 
references to history, collections, or types 

Susie etal. (1988), Crnkovic et al. (1993) 
important past bird staff D. Rucner, R. 

Kroneisl-Rucner, K. Igalffy, S. Ivkovic, A. Ilic, 

K. Leskovar, R. Crnkovic 
important collections come from A. Mastrovic, 

A. Ilic (eggs) 
approx. nr. of bird skins 6,700 (317 species) 
other bird items 557 egg sets (274 species) 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 2 
bird skin collection specialised in Former 

Yugoslavia (mainly Croatia) 
card or computer system present all on card 

Zurich (ZMUZ) 

Info from: J. Hegelbach, 25 Jun 1996 

address Zoologisches Museum der Universitat 

Zurich-Irchel, WinterthurerstraBe 190, CH- 

8057 Zurich, Schweiz / Switzerland 
telephone #-41-1-257-4750, fax #-41-1-364- 

0295, e-mail hegzm@ 
staff responsible for bird coll. Dr Johann 

Hegelbach (head), Prof. Dr V. Ziswiler (retired, 

volunt. assoc.) 
total staff of bird dept. 1 head, 0.5 taxidermist 
brief history — 
references to history, collections, or types no 

important past bird staff H. Steiner, K. 

important collections come from H. Moschler, 

approx. nr. of bird skins 4,000 (1,000 species) 
other bird items 50 skeletons, 50 in alcohol, 

800 egg sets 
approx. recent annual increase in skins 50, 

from local birds skinned by own taxidermist 

and donations 
bird skin collection specialised in — 
card or computer system present all skins on 

card, part on computer 

The 'B-list' 

In this list, some smaller collections are mentioned which have fewer than c. 4,000 skins, or fewer than 
c.5,000 bird items, or of which no exact information could be obtained because the questionnaire was 
not returned, even after repeated asking. At least addresses are mentioned, as well as some other details 
as far as known. Some of these collections may belong on the 'A-list'. As indicated there, collections 
with a smaller number of birds may not necessarily be less important, because they still may include 
types, rarities or birds from relatively unknown regions not represented in larger museums. 

A9ores Museu Carlos Machado (MCM), Rua de 
Santo Andre, Apartado 258, P-9503 Ponta 
Delgada (Sao Miguel), Acores, Portugal. 
Contains a small bird coll. 

Aarhus Naturhistoriska Museum, Bygning 210, 
Universitetsparken, DK-8000 Arhus-C, 
Denmark. Curator: Poul Hansen (e-mail: Has a small coll. of 
bird skins. Former curator: Paul Bondesen. 

Akureyri Akureyri Museum of Natural History, 
PO Box 580, IS-602, Akureyri, Iceland. 
Contains a small bird coll. 

Augsburg Naturmuseum und Planetarium 
Augsburg, Im Thale 3, Augsburg, Germany. 
Tel. #-49-821-324-6730, fax -6741. Head: Dr 
Michael Achtelig. Includes a small bird coll. 

Autun Musee d'Histoire Naturelle de Ville 
d'Autun, 12-14 rue Saint Antoine, F-71400 
Autun, France. Conservator: Gilles Pacaud. 
Includes a small bird coll. 

Bacau Muzeul Judetean Bacau, Sectia Stiintele 
Naturii, Str. Karl Marx 2, Bacau, Romania. The 
bird coll., founded in 1959 and with entries 
from 1962 onwards, held c.2300 skins and 

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Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

skeletal items by the end of 1979, largely 
obtained by Dr Catalin Rang and largely from 
the Bacau area, but also from the eastern 
Carpathians and the Danube delta: also, 104 
birds from Kisangani and Kivu in Congo. See 
Rang ( L980). 

Bad Diirkheim Pfalzmuseum fiir Naturkunde 
(PMN), Pollichia-Museum. Hermann-Schafer- 
Strafie 17. D-67098 Bad Diirkheim, Germany. 
Tel. #-49-6322-9413-0 or -23. fax -94131 1. 
Curator of zoology: Dipl.-Biol. Roland van 
Gyseghem (R.Gyseghem@ pfalzmuseum. bv- former curator G. Groh. Founded 
1840. Contains the coll. of the Pollichia 
(Verein fiir Naturforschung und Landespflege), 
which includes 100 bird skins, 50 skulls, 18 
birds in alcohol, 300 egg sets, 50 nests, and a 
number of mounted birds, mostly from the 
Rheinland-Pfalz region, not on card or 

Bamberg Naturkunde-Museum Bamberg 
(NKMBA), FleischstraBe 2, D-96047 
Bamberg. Germany. Tel.: #-49-951-86312-48. 
Head of coll.: Dr Matthias Mauser 
Founded in 1792 by the archbishop Franz 
Ludwig von Erthal, now owned by the 
Lyzeum's foundation Bamberg, supervised by 
the Bavarian States Collections of Natural 
Science. Has 1,550 mounted birds (800 
species), 31 (partial) skeletons, 552 eggs, and 
1 1 2 nests, with data and photographs of all 
mounts on computer. Important past staff 
members D. Linder, A. Haupt, G. Fischer, T. 
Schneid, A. Kolb; coll. included specimens 
from Amalie Dietrich, J. C. Godeffroy, J. 
Natterer, J. L. Schonlein, J. B. von Spix, C. T 
E. von Siebold, W. Schliiter, J. H. C. Sturm, 
and E. Weiske. See Jaeck (1815), Mauser 
(1995a.b), and Steinheimer (in press a). 

Bari, Italy. In the city are 2 small separate bird 
colls., one of which is the historical De Romita 
collection, quite famous in the past (N. 
Baccetti per. comm.) See also Suppl. Ric. Biol. 
Selvaggina 22 (\995). 

Bialywieza This village in the centre of the 
Bialowieza Reserve in NE Poland has a small 
museum which includes 950 skins and mounts 
of birds ( 1 30 species) and 335 eggs of local 

Bielefeld Naturkunde-Museum der Stadt 
Bielefeld. Kreu/straBe 20, D-33602 Bielefeld, 
Germany. Tel . #-49-52 1 -5 1 6734, fax -5 1 248 1 , 

e-mail NaturkundeMuseum@ 
Head: Dr Peter R. Becker. Includes a small 
bird coll. 

Birchington Quex House & Gardens, the 
Powell-Cotton Museum, Quex Park, 
Birchington, Kent C17 0BH, U.K. One curator, 
partly dedicated to natural history. Includes 
many mammal skeletons, but also bird skins, 
eggs, and mounts in dioramas, mostly from 
Africa: many skins of Spheniscidae obtained 
from E. Shackelton's Antarctic Expeditions. (F. 
Steinheimer in litt.). See also Powell-Cotton 

Birmingham Birmingham Museum and Art 
Gallery (BMAG), Chamberlain Square, 
Birmingham B3 3DH, U.K. Tel.: #-44-121- 
3034510, fax -3031315. Head of curatorial 
services: Dr Jane Arthur (jane_arthur@ Natural History part 
opened 1913 but based on colls, founded in the 
1840s, e.g. of Queen's College and C. Beale; 
owned by Birmingham City Council. Former 
curators W. Ellis and W. H. Edwards, major 
colls, received of R. W. Chase, W. R. Lysaght, 
and J. B. Williams. Includes over 2,000 mounts 
and over 1,000 egg sets, mostly local but also 
from abroad (e.g. Toronto) and including 
extinct birds like Pinguinus impennis and 
Nestor productus; partly on card and computer. 
Access to coll. at moment restricted due to 
budgetary and staff constraints. 

Bitov This town in the Czech Republic has a 
museum which contains 590 birds of 273 

Bordeaux Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 
Bordeaux, 5 Place Bardinaeau, F-33000 
Bordeaux, France. Founded 1811. Includes a 
small historical coll. of birds. 

Bratislava Slovenske Narodne Miizeum (Slovak 
National Museum) (SNMBS), dept of Zoology, 
Vajanskeho nabrezie 2, SL-81436 Bratislava, 
Slovakia. Tel. #-421-7-366836, fax -366653. 
Curator: Branislav Matousek. Includes c. 6,000 
bird skins. 

Brescia Museo Civica di Scienze Naturali, 
GRAN, Via Ozanam 4, 1-25128, Brescia, Italy. 
Curator: Pierandrea Brichetti. Director: Dr 
Marco Tonon. Includes a bird coll. 

Budisov Moravskeho Zemskeho Muzea, 
Budisov Castle, near Trebic, SW Moravia, 
Czech Republic. Has over 2,600 mounted birds 
of many species, provenance worldwide, 
including many from Seilern (E Asia, S 

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Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

America) and the coll. of Adolf Schwab 
(Mistek). See Sutorova & Hanak (1996) for 
history, a catalogue, and other details. 

Burgas Natural History Museum (NHMB), 30 
Constantin Fotinov Str., 8000 Burgas, Bulgaria. 
Tel #-359-56-45855, fax #-359-56-843239. 
Founded 1962, belongs to the Municipality of 
Burgas. Curator: Dr Dimitrina Smilova; former 
head Alexander Prostov. Includes c.300 skins 
and c.500 mounts of c.200 species, all on a 
card system, including rarities like Numenius 
tenuirostris; also, a fair coll. of subfossil bird 
bones. See Prostov & Smilova (1983). 

Bytom Upper Silesian Museum, Bytom, S-C 
Poland. Has 1,100 bird skins, 884 mounts, 140 
(partial) skeletons, 3,821 eggs, and 234 nests, 
mostly from Poland but also 130 mounts from 
Borneo. Includes colls, of M. Bielewicz, E. 
Drescher, Gedroyc, O. Natorp, and S. Sobania. 

Cagliari Institute de Zoologia (IZUCS), 
Universita di Cagliari, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy. 
Includes a small historical coll. of Sardinian 

Carlisle Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, 
Castle Street, Carlisle CA3 8TP, Cumbria, 
U.K. Tel. #-44-1228-534781, fax -810249. 
Keeper of Natural Sciences: Stephen Hewitt 
( Founded in 
1893, owned by Carlisle City Council. 
Important past staff members or persons 
donating colls: Rev. H. A. Macpherson, L. E. 
Hope, E. Blezard, Marjory Garnett, E. B. 
Dunlop, D. L. Thorpe, J. W Harris. Includes 
2,500 skins, 1,500 mounts, 100 (partial) 
skeletons, and c.3,500 egg sets, virtually all 
from Carlisle and the Cumbria region. 

Casalnuovo Monterotaro Museo Civico di 
Storia Naturale, Via Diaz, Casalnuovo 
Monterotaro, Foggia prov., Italy. Has a bird 
coll. of 1,350 mounts; see: Suppl. Ric. Biol. 
Selvaggina 22 (1995). 

Catania Gemmellaro State Institute, Catania, 
Sicily. For a catalogue of its small bird coll., 
see : A. Cantarero (1993) Naturalista Siciliano 
17: 183-185. 

Ceska Lipa Okresni Vlastivedne Muzeum, nam 
Osvobozeni 297, CZ-470 01, Ceska Lipa, 
Czech Republic. Tel.: 00-420-425-22791, 
22854 & 22843. A former monasatery coll. 
including local and exotic bird mounts. 

Chemnitz Museum fiir Naturkunde, 
Theaterplatz 1, D-09111 Chemnitz, Germany. 
Tel. #-49-371-4884551, fax -4884597, e-mail 

Mainly geological/entomological, but includes 
a small bird coll. 

Chieri A museum in Piedmont prov., Italy. 
Contains the Villa Brea coll.; for a catalogue of 
the small bird coll., see G. Aimassi & L. Levi 
(1993) Riv. Piemontese di Storia Naturale 14: 

Cluj-Napoca Zoological Museum, Dept. of 
Biology, University of Cluj-Napoca, Ro-3400 
Cluj-Napoca, Romania. A coll. founded 1859, 
which had 1,146 birds in 1964 (of 396 
species). Former curator a.o.: L. von Fiihrer. 
See Gherghel (1988, 1989). 

Coventry Herbert Art Gallery and Museum 
(HAGM), Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP, 
U.K. Tel: #-44-2476-832374, fax -832410. 
Keeper of Natural History: Steve Lane 
( Founded 1949, 
part of Coventry City Council. Has 250 skins 
and mounts and 4,500 eggs with data (and at 
least 5,000 more without), all on computer. 
Includes the colls, of, e.g. Nicholls, Betteridge, 
Beddall-Smith (eggs), Bellgrove (eggs), and 
Ground (eggs), mostly of local origin 
(Warwickshire) or from the U.K. generally. 
Cruz Quebrada-Dafundo Aquario Vasco da 
Gama, 1495 Cruz Quebrada-Dafundo, 
Portugal. Head: Dr Aldina Moreira Inacio. The 
aquarium also has a small bird coll. 

Czestochowa Muzeum Okregowe, Al. 
Najswietszej Marii Panny 45a, PL-42-200 
Czestochowa, SC Poland. Tel.: #-48-34- 
3244424, fax #-48-34-3243275. Contains 135 
bird skins and mounts (119 species) and 567 

Darmstadt Hessisches Landesmuseum 
(HLMD), Zoologische Abteilung, 
Friedensplatz 1, D-64283 Darmstadt, Germany. 
Tel. #-49-6151-165703, fax -28942. Curator 
Dr U. Joger. Includes many local birds from 
Hessen, the large former coll. of J. J. Kaup, 
and some material of F. Brtiggemann, J. 
Gundlach, C. F. H. von Ludwig, H. von 
Rosenberg, and many others. For history, see: 
R. Kuhn (1993) Colluno 11: 36-47. 

Dijon Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, Pavillion 
de l'Arquebuse, 1 Avenue Albert ler, Dijon, 
France. A large show coll. with dioramas. 

Dobrich (Tolbukhin) Cultural and Historical 
Heritage, Direction of Tolbukhin, Bulgaria. Tel 
#-359-58-24463. Contains a small coll. (228 
birds, 178 species) from the Bulgarian part of 

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Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

the Dobrogea region, all well-registered. See 
None\ (1982). 

Dortmund Museum fur Naturkunde. 
MiinsterstraBe 271. D-44145 Dortmund. 
Germany. E-mail: naturkundemuseum@ Founded 1912. Includes a small 
bird coll. 

Dublin Natural History Museum/Musaem na 
Staire Nadurtha. National Museum of Ireland 
(NMI). Merrion Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Tel: 
#-353-1-6777444, fax -6761348, e-mail Curator for all non- 
entomological zoology Dr Mark Holmes, 
education officer Dr Damien Walshe (spare- 
time occupying with bird coll.). Founded 1857. 
Includes the coll. of O'Mahorey. 

Ekaterinburg Institute of Zoology, Russian 
Academy of Sciences. Curator: Vadim K. 
Ryabitsev ( An important coll., 
but not included in the main list because 
Ekaterinburg is just within Asia, not Europe. 

Elverum Norsk Skogsbruksmuseum, RO. Box 
117, N-2401 Elverum, Norway. Tel. #-47-624- 
10299, fax -13015. Curator Mr Andersen. Has 
a small bird coll. 

Eriangen Institut fur Zoologie, Erlangen 
Universitat, StaudstraBe 5, D-91058 Erlangen, 
Germany. Has a small bird coll. which 
includes, for instance, 2 Ectopistes 
migratorius. Head of Institute: Prof. Dr O. von 

Essex Saffron Walden Museum (SWM), 
Museum Street. Saffron Walden, Essex CB10 
1JL, U.K. Curator of Natural Sciences: Sarah 
Kenyon, tel/fax #-44-(0 1)799-5 10333, e-mail 
museum® Founded 1832 by 
the Saffron Walden Natural History Society. 
Founders and former staff include Lord 
Braybrook, Clarke, Gibson, and Maynard. 
Contains 1,500 mounts and skins of birds 
(mostly British/ European, partly mounted by 
J. Gould and Leadbeater, but also foreign: 
Asia. Australia, N & S America, Africa) and 
6,540 eggs (e.g. the Tuke and Smith colls., 
mainly British), largely collected in the 
nineteenth century. 

Fermo Museo di Scienze Naturali, Fermo, Italy. 
Includes 408 mounted Italian birds of the 
private coll. of T. Salvadori. donated by him to 
the city of Fermo in 1930. See Suppl. Rlc. Biol. 
Selvaggina 22 (1995), and Violani et al 
(1997); in the latter work, all birds are shown 
on photographs. 

Ferrara Istituto di Zoologia e Biologia 
Generale, Universita degli Studi di Ferrara, Via 
Previati 24, 1-44100 Ferrara, Italy. Contains 
c. 2,000 skins and mounts: see S. Mazzotti & S. 
Volponi (1993) Museol. Scientifica 10: 53-61. 

Forli Museo Ornitologico 'F. Foschi', Forli, 
Emilia Romagna prov., Italy. Contains the coll. 
of F. Foschi (assembled 1934-1980) of c.3,500 
mounts of Italian birds, and includes also 
several older colls. See U. F. Foschi 
('1993' =1994) Museol. Scientifica 10: 335- 
336. A 1 12 pp. catalogue was published by U. 
F. Foschi in 1984. 

Funchal Museu Municipal do Funchal (Historia 
Natural) (MMF), Ornithology section, Rua da 
Mouraria 31, 9000 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. 
Tel. #-351-91-792591, fax -225180. Curator 
(for entire zoology) E. C. Gerrard ('Ted') 
(egerrard® Founded by Padre 
E. Schmitz, now owned by municipality of 
Funchal. A small but important coll. of birds 
from Madeira and other Atlantic islands 

Gottingen Zoologisches Museum (ZIMG), 
Institut fur Zoologie und Anthropologic der 
Universitat Gottingen, Berliner StraBe 28, D- 
37037 Gottingen, Germany. Tel. : #-49-551- 
395524, fax -395579. Curator: Dr Gert Troster 
( Includes colls, of the past 
staff members J. F. Blumenbach, Ehlers, and H. 
Kirchhoff. The bird coll. has c.350 mounts and 
1,350 skins, and includes extinct birds like 
Ectopistes migratorius, Nestor productus and 
Conuropsis carolinensis; also, 300 egg sets and 
a few skeletons 

Graz Steiermarkisches Landesmuseum 
Joanneum (LMJ), Raubergasse 10, A-8010 
Graz, Austria. Tel #-43-316-8017 9760, fax #- 
43-316-8017 9800, e-mail post@lmj-, webpage Manager of bird coll.: Peter 
Sackl; a former curator A. von Mojsisovics. 
Founded 1811, belongs to the Steiermark 
government. Includes 1,756 skins (700 
species), 150 skeletons (60 species), 350 egg 
sets, and 100 nests, including parts of the 
former colls, of von Spix, Tschusi zu 
Schmidhoffen, Worofka, Johann Natterer, 
Schiebel and Neunteufel, both from Austria 
and abroad, of which part is on computer; 
increase c.20 skins annually, from local birds 
skinned by own taxidermist. See Marktanner- 
Turneretscher (1911) and Mecenovic (1969) for 
history and contents of the coll. 

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Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Greifswald Zoologisches Institut und Museum, 
Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universitat Greifswald, 
Johann-Sebastian-Bach-StraBe 11-12, D- 17489 
Greifswald, Germany. Tel. #-49-3834-864271, 
fax - 864252, e-mail Curator: Dr Dietmar Schittek. 
Includes an important number of bird skins. 

Harnosand Lansmuseet Murberget, S-87102 
Harnosand, Sweden. Tel. #-46-611-23240. Has 
a small bird coll. 

Heusden-Zolder The large coll. of mounted 
birds of Pater Landewald Jansen is exhibited in 
Heusden-Zolder, prov. Limburg, Belgium. Info: 
Stichting Limburgs Landschap, tel. #-32-11- 

Hildesheim Roemer-Museum, Am Steine 1-2, 
D-31134 Hildesheim (near Hannover), 
Germany. The coll. is mostly archaeological, 
but a small coll. of birds is available. See 
Schoppe (1987) for history and contents. 

Hradec Kralove Muzeum Vychodnich Czech, 
Nat. Hist. Dept., Eliscino nabrezi 465, CZ- 
50001 Hradec Kralove, Czech Rep. Tel. #-42- 
49-5514631, fax #-42-49-5512899. Curator Dr 
Karel Lohnisky, former curator V. Balthasar. 
Includes 450 skins (300 species, 55 bird 
families), 450 skeletons (300 species), and 50 
egg sets, largely from Czech Rep. and Slovakia 

Innsbruck Institut fiir Zoologie und Limnologie 
(IZUI), Abt. Terrestische Okologie und 
Taxonomie, Universitat Innsbruck, 
TechnikerstraBe 25, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria. 
Head of Institute: Dr Konrad Thaler. The coll. 
of the institute was founded in about 1 860, and 
now includes c.330 mounts, at least 12 
skeletons, and a few birds in alcohol, skulls, 
egg sets, and nests. 

Istanbul Robert's College (Istanbul Amerikan 
Robert Liseri), PK 1 Arnavutkai, TR-80820 
Istanbul, Turkey. Contains 266 mounted birds 
(174 species), presumed to be largely of local 
origin. Based on the private coll. of T. Robson 
(an inhabitant of Istanbul 1861-1871), with 
later additions by Mathey-Dupraz and others. 
In poor condition, with at least 265 specimens 
lost between 1924 and 1996. See Mathey- 
Dupraz (1920-1924) and Kirwan (1997). 

Jelenia Gora The suburb Cieplice of this town 
in SW Poland has a small natural history 
museum which includes 922 skins and mounts 
of birds (370 species), 541 eggs, and 30 nests. 

Jokkmokk Ajtte Svensk Fjall- och 
Samemuseum, S-96040 Jokkmokk, Sweden. 
Tel. #-46-971-17070. Has a small bird coll. 

Jonkoping Ornithological Museum, Town Park, 
Jonkoping, Sweden. Open May-August; 
owned by Jonkoping Municipality. Contains 
1,458 mounts and skins (of 341 species) and 
2,580 eggs (of 281 species), largely of birds 
from Sweden. Based on donations of H. 
Nyqvist in 1914 (mounts & skins) and E. 
Wibeck in 1943 (eggs). See Berlin (1988). 

Kassel Naturkunde Museum im Ottoneum, 
Steinweg 2, D-34117 Kassel, Germany. Tel. #- 
49-561-7874014, fax -7874058. Info: Dr Franz 
Malec or Dr Peter Mansfeld. Founded 1884. 
Includes a small bird coll., with material of, 
e.g., J. Gundlach (Cuba) and Matzko, and with 
extinct birds like Ectopistes migratorius and 
Conuropsis carolinensis . 

Kazan Zoological Museum of the Kazan State 
University, Tatarstan, Russia. Curator: Tatyana 
Vodolazskaya (e-mail: Tatjana.Wodolazskaya@ Founded 1804, with K. Fuchs as 
first head, later succeeded by E. F. Eversmann. 
Has 500 skins and 1 ,000 mounts of birds from 
the colls, of E. A. Eversmann, M. D. Ruzskiy, 
A. A. Ostroyumov, E. Pelzmann, etc. 

Kendal Kendal Museum, Station Road, Kendal 
LA9 6BT, Cumbria, U.K. Tel: #-44-1539- 
721374, fax -722494. Ass. Keeper: Morag 
Clement. Founded 1796, owned by local 
government. Has large dioramas with mounted 
birds, both local (Lake District) and exotic; 
also, a small egg coll. 

Kiev The coll. of the Zoological Museum of 
Kiev University (ZMKU) was destroyed in 
World War II and the museum apparently does 
not function as such now. The other museum in 
Kiev, the Zoological Museum of National 
Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (ZMAU), is 
in the 'A list. 

Kosice Vychodoslovenske Muzeum Kosice 
(VSM), Prirodovedne oddelenie, 
Hviezdoslavova 3, 04136 Kosice, Slovakia. 
Curator: Dr Miroslav Fulin. Founded 1955; 
state-owned. Specialised in the Carpathian 
region of Slovakia. Includes 2,000 bird skins, 
1,000 mounts, 3,000 (partial) skeletons, 50 
birds in liquid, and 1,200 egg sets, to which 
c.20 are added annually; includes the coll. of 
A. Mosansky. For details and catalogues of the 
coll. see various issues of Zbornik 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Vychodoslovensk&ho Miizea (e.g. 1977 and 
L978)or Matousek & Mutkovic (1985). 
Kothen Naumann Museum. Kothener Schloss, 
SchloBplatz 4 (P.O. Box 181 ). D-06366 

koihen. Germany. Tel. #-49-3496-212074. A 
large mounted coll., obtained mainly in the first 
half of the nineteenth century and still in its 
original setting. Founded by J. A. & J. F. 
Naumann, acquired by August Herzog von 
Anhalt-Kothen in 1821, with J. F. Naumann as 
first director, later on succeeded by Edmund 
Naumann. Also, includes the feather coll. of 
W.-D. Busching, many birds from G. Garlepp 
(South America), etc. See W. Zimdahl (1980) 
Fa Ike 27: 42-44. 

Kristiansand Agder Naturmuseum og Botanisk 
Hage. Gimlegard, Gimleveien 23, N-4687 
Kristiansand, Norway. Tel. #-47-380-92388, 
fax -92378. Head curator Roar Solheim 
( Has a 
small bird coll. 

La Rochelle Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de La 
Rochelle (MHNLR), 28 Rue Albert 1-er, F- 
17000 La Rochelle. France. Tel. #-33-546- 
41825, fax -506365. A small historical coll., 
which includes extinct birds like Rhodonessa 
caryophyllacea, Ectopistes migratorius, and a 
skeleton of Raphus cuciillatus. 

Leeuwarden Fries Natuurmuseum (FNM), 
Schoenmakersperk 2, NL-8911 EM 
Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Curator: Johannes 
Fokkema. Tel. #-31-58-2129085, e-mail Includes 3,500 
birds and c. 1,000 eggs, virtually all from the 
province of Friesland. 

Le Havre Museum du Havre, Le Havre, France. 
Includes 744 birds of the coll. Dubois/Hemery, 
obtained by Maury; Lesueur was curator in the 
1840s, but his and other historical colls, were 
lost after bombing in 1944. 

Leicester New Walk Museum, Leicestershire 
Museums, 53 New Walk, Leicester LEI 7EA, 
U.K. Tel.: #-44-1 16-2554100, fax -2473057. 
Curator of biology: Derek Lott. Includes a 
small bird and egg coll. 

Livorno Museo di Storia Naturale del 
Mediterraneo (formerly Museo Provinciale di 
Storia Naturale di Livorno), Via Roma 234, I- 
57)27 Livorno, Italy. Tel. #-39-586-802294. A 
small coll., including c. 1,000 bird skins. 
mainly from Tuscany. Catalogue: E. Arcamone 
& E. Meschini (1981) Quaderni Mas. Stor. not. 
Livorno 2, 65-94. 

Ljubljana Prirodosloveni Muzej Slovenije 
(ML), Presernova 20, p.p. 290, SI- 1001 
Ljubljana, Slovenia. Curator for birds: Janez 
Gregori (; tel. 01-2410947. 
Founded 1905, government-owned. The bird 
coll. has 3,500 skins and 125 eggs, to which 
100-150 birds are added anually; most birds 
are from Slovenia, but some recent colls, from 
Macedonia, Dalmatia, and Nepal. It includes 
colls, of Lojze Smuc, Janez Dovic, and Dare 

London Grant Museum of Zoology and 
Comparitive Anatomy (formerly: Zoology 
Museum), Biology Dept, Darwin Building, 
University College London, Gower Street, 
London WC1E 6BT, U.K. Tel #-44-17 1-3 87- 
7050 or -2647, fax#-44- 17 1-380-7096. Curator 
Ms Helen Chatterjee (, 
lecturer Dr Adrian Lister; former curator Ms 
Rozina Down. Founded 1828 when the private 
coll. of Robert E. Grant was added to that of 
the Imperial College; now part of University 
College London. Contains 550 bird skeletons 
and anatomical specimens. 

London Museum of the Royal College of 
Surgeons of England (RCSE), 35-43 Lincoln's 
Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PN, U.K. Curator 
of vertebrates: Barry Davis (tel. ##-44-171- 
973-2190, fax ##-44-171-405-4438, e-mail or Founded in 1799 when 
the British Government purchased the coll. of 
John Hunter, becoming the Royal College of 
Surgeons in 1800; coll. opened to the public in 
1813. Heavily damaged in World War II, but 
some 500 anatomical bird specimens remain, 
mostly in spirit, many from the eighteenth 
century. All bird items on computer (F. 
Steinheimer in lift.). 

Liibeck Naturhistorisches Museum Liibeck, 
Muhlendamm 1-3, D-23522 Liibeck, Germany. 
Head: Dr Wolfram Eckloff. Includes a small 
bird coll. Formerly had material from North 
America and SE Asia, e.g. the coll. of Hugo 
Storm, but this was destroyed in 1942. 

Ludlow Shropshire County Museum Service 
(SHRCM), Ludlow Museum Office, 47 Old 
Street, Ludlow SY8 1NW, Shropshire, U.K. 
Tel: #-44-1584-873857, fax -872019, e-mail @ 
Curator of Natural Sciences: Ms Katherine J. 
Andrew. Founded 1833; has 550 mounted 
birds, a further 40 cases of mounted birds, 10 

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Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

(partial) skeletons, and 3,000 eggs, including 
material from the Whitchurch Museum, the 
Ludlow Nat. Hist. Soc, and the John Rocke 
private museum (Clungunford), mostly from 
the Shropshire region (W England) and the 
British Isles generally. 

Luxembourg Musee National d'Histoire 
Naturelle de Luxembourg (MNHNL), 25 Rue 
Munster, L-2160 Luxembourg. Tel. #-352- 
462233-200 or -462233-414. Curator of the 
zoological section: E. Engel 
(, scientific assistant J.- 
M.Guinet (; tel -462240- 
209); former curator V. Ferrant. Has 2,500 
mounts (many with full data), 104 skins, 55 
skeletons/skulls, c.300 eggs, 240 nests, and 81 
feather sets; includes colls, of H. Linden, E. 
Holub, H. Princess von Schwartzenberg, and J. 
Saur, both of local origin and from Africa and 
South America (e.g. from Brazil). See Ferrant 
(1912) and Guinet (1999) for catalogues. 

Lyon Musee Guimet d'Histoire Naturelle 
(MGHNL), Museum de Lyon, 28 Boulevard 
des Beiges, F-69006 Lyon, France; tel. #-33- 
472-690519. Curator: M. Clary, G Pacaud. 
Founded 1772 and containing many mounts of 
birds. The Centre de Paleontologie 
stratigraphique et Paleoecologie, ERS 2042, 
Universite Claude Bernard-Lyon 1, 27-43 
Boulevard du 1 1 Novembre, F-69622 
Villeurbanne Cedex, France, has an enormous 
coll. of (sub)fossil and recent bird bones 
(curator: Dr Cecile Mourer-Chauvire). 

Maastricht Natuurhistorisch Museum 
Maastricht (NHMM), Postbus 882, NL-6200 
AW Maastricht, the Netherlands (visitors 
address: De Bosquetplein 6-7, NL-6211 KJ 
Maastricht). Tel. #-31-43-3505477, fax - 
3505475. Head curator: Ms Drs F. N. 
Dingemans-Bakels. Founded 1912, owned by 
local government; includes colls, of A. W. P. 
Maessen, pater Nillesen, and Mr Knapen 
(eggs). Has 2,000 skins and mounts, 30 skulls, 
and 1,370 eggs, largely from the Limburg 
province, not all yet on card or computer. 

Madrid The Universidad Autonoma de Madrid 
has an important avian skeleton coll. 

Mainz Naturhistorisches Museum Mainz 
(NHMMZ), Landessammlung fur Naturkunde 
Rheinland-Pfalz, ReichklarastraGe 10, D-51116 
Mainz, Germany. Tel #-49-6131-122647, e- 
mail Curator: Dr 
Ulrich Schmidt. Founded 1834; owned by city 

of Mainz. Has 2,875 skins and mounts, 1,025 
(partial) skeletons, 1,875 egg sets, and 216 
nests, all on card/computer; 10-50 skins are 
added annually. Regionally specialised 
(Rheinland-Pfalz), but also birds from 
elsewhere in C Europe and from Ruanda; 
includes birds of, e.g., O. Natorp. 

Malmo Malmo Museer, Natural History 
Department, Malmohus Castle, 
Malmohusvagen, S-20104 Malmo, Sweden. 
Tel. #-46-40-344400. Founded 1841. Curator: 
Sverker Waden ( 
Includes an important number of bird skins, 
mostly Swedish. 

Marseille Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 
Marseille (MMNH), Palais Longchamp, F- 
13004 France. Has a small bird coll. 

Melitopol State Pedological Institute, Melitopol, 
Crimea, Ukraine. A small bird coll. Curator 
Aleksander I. Koshelev 
(station @ melitopol .net) 

Monaco Musee Oceanographique (MOM), 
Avenue Saint-Martin, MC-98000, Monaco- 
ville, Monaco. Has fewer than 200 skins, 
mostly of sea-birds. Catalogue: C. Carpine 
(1986) Bull. Inst. Oceanogn Monaco 1436: 1- 

Montauban Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de 
Montauban, Palais de la Cour des Aides, Place 
A. Bourdelle, F-82000 Montauban, France. 
Founded 1854, containing c. 1,500 mounted 
local and exotic birds. 

Moscow Biological Faculty of Moscow State 
University MGU, dept of Vertebrate Zoology. 
Includes colls, of bird skins and specimens in 
spirit. Curators: Maksim N. Dementiev (skins;, Prof Felix Ya. 
Dzerzhinski (spirit specimens; 

Moscow Dept of Zoology and Ecology, 
Zoological-Chemistry Faculty, Moscow 
Pedagogical State University MPSU. Tel #-7- 
(0)95-283 1634. Curator: Vladimir T Butiev. 
Founded 1959. Includes c.3,500 skins (c.600 
species) from a wide area of the former USSR, 
all registered on a card system, with regular 
additions from own expeditions, local 
collectors, etc. 

Moscow Geography Faculty, Dept of 
Zoogeography, Moscow State University 
MGU. Includes nearly 1,000 skins and c.400 
clutches with nest. Curator: Dr Vladimir N. 

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Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Moscow Private coil, of the late Dr L. S. 
Stepanyan [formerly associated with the 
Institute of Bcolog) and Evolution (former A. 
N. Severtzov Institute) (IOAN), Russian 
Acadenn of Sciences, Leninskii Prospekt 33, 
1 17071 Moskva V-71. Russia. Staff: A. V. 
Filchagov], This private coll., whose fate is 
unknown following the death of Stepanyan in 
2002. was started in 1953 and includes 2,784 
birds (c.600 species) obtained during 
expeditions to many sites in the former Soviet 
Union (especially the Caucasus and the Far 
East), as well as Mongolia, Vietnam, and the 
SW Pacific: 4 types are included. Catalogue: 
Stepanyan (2001). 

Nancy: Museum-Aquarium de Nancy (MAN), 
34 rue Sainte-Catherine, F-54000 Nancy, 
France. Tel #-33-383-329997. Coll. manager: 
Dr Alain Philippot (alain.philippot@man.uhp- Formerly named Musee de zoologie 
de l'Universite et de la ville de Nancy (MZN), 
now belongs to the Communaute Urbaine du 
Grand Nancy. Founded in 1854; former staff 
members Mr Godron and L. Cuenot, includes 
the coll. of Charon and with large recent 
acquisitions as a depot of the Paris Museum 
(MNHN). Includes 3,000 mounts, a few skins 
and skeletons, and a fairly large number of egg 
sets. Mounts of worldwide provenance, all on 

Naples/Napoli Centro 'Musei delle Scienze 
Naturali' of the Istituto e Museo di Zoologia, 
Universita degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, 
Via Mezzocannone 8, 1-80134 Napoli, Italy. 
Curator: Nicola Maio. Founded in 1811 by G. 
Murat, now containing 2,230 skins and mounts, 
from Italy, Brazil, E Africa, etc.; includes colls, 
of Luigi Petagna, Achille Costa, Elena d' Aosta, 
and Mario Schettino. See Maio & Nappi (2001) 
Avocetta 25: 154, and Avocetta 23: 193 (1999). 

Nice Musee d'Histoire Naturelle (Musee Barla), 
60 Bd Risso, F-06300 Nice, France. Tel. #-33- 
4-93551524, fax -93558196. Has a small bird 

Nottingham Nottingham Natural History 
Museum, Wollaton Hall, Wollaton Park, 
Nottingham NG8 2AE, U.K. Tel: #-44-1 15- 
9153900, fax -0153932. Has a large egg coll. 

Norwich Castle Museum, Nat. Hist. Dept., 
Norwich, Norfolk NR1 3JU, England, tel#-44- 
1603-493642, fax -76565 1 . Curator of Natural 
History Dept: DrA. G. (Tony) Irwin, e-mail Includes large 
bird dioramas. 

Novi Sad Institute for Protection of Nature of 
Serbia, Radnicka 20, 21000 Novi Sad, 
Yugoslavia. Tel #38 1 -2 1 -42 1 144, e-mail 
ZZPSNS@eunet.yu. Curator Slobodan Puzovic 
MSc; 2 taxidermists. Founded 1947, 
government-owned. Includes 2,500 bird skins 
(200 species), 45 skeletons, 405 egg sets, 50 

Novy Jicin This town in N Moravia (E Czech 
Republic) has a museum which contains 519 
birds of 287 species. 

Odessa Odessa State University, Odessa, 
Ukraine. Includes a small bird coll. Curator: 
Anatoli I. Korzyukov ( 

Olomouc Vlastivedne Muzeum v Olomouci 
(regional Museum of Olomouc), Namesti 
Republiky 5, 77173 Olomouc, Czech Rep. 
Curator Zdenek Vermouzek (tel. #-420-68- 
5515116/ 0605-578746; fax #-420-68- 
5222743, e-mail Founded by 
fusion of some smaller colls. 1873-1908; 
former curator Zdenek Rumler. Has 3,000 
skins, 1,500 (partial) skeletons, and 273 egg 
sets, to which up to 20-30 are added annually. 
Most items are from Moravia or the Czech 
Republic generally, a few exotic; all are on 
card, part also on computer. See also Varga 

Opava Slezske Zemske Muzeum, Prirodovednf 
oddeleni, Tyrsova 1 , 74646 Opava, Czech 
Republic. Includes 4,000 bird skins (Varga 

Oporto see Porto 

Oradea Muzeul 'Tarii Crisurilor', Str. 
Stadionului 2, 3700 Oradea, Romania. 
According to a catalogue (Kovats et al. 1970), 
the coll. contains 1,315 birds of 207 species. 
Also an egg catalogue is available (Beczy 

Padua/Padova Museo di Zoologia, Universita 
degli Studi di Padova, Via Jappelli 1/A, I- 
35121 Padova, Italy. Tel #-39-49-8275410, fax 
-8275064. Curator: Paola Nicolosi 
(paola.nicolosi@; scientific staff: 
Prof. M. Turchetto, Prof. R. Sandra Casellato 
(for all zoology). Founded 1734 with the 
donation of the coll. of Antonio Vallisneri to 
the university; includes colls, of G. Nardo and 
C. Acerbi from Italy, USA, and Egypt. Has at 
least 680 mounts (without data on stands, but 
perhaps to be traced from available ancient 
catalogues), 21 skeletons & skulls, 340 eggs 
and 98 nests (425 species), mostly from the 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

local area (Veneto) but with some from 
elsewhere; not yet on computer. See also 
Nicolosi & Turchetto (2001). 

Panagyurishte Town Historical Museum 
(NHMP), Panagyurishte, Bulgaria. Curator: 
Yasen Hristov. Founded 1970. Includes c.200 
bird skins, mainly from nearby localities in C 
Bulgaria; all on card. See Hristov (1982). 

Pavia Dip. Biologia Animale, Universita di 
Pavia, Piazza Botta 9-10, 1-27100 Pavia, Italy. 
Curator: Dr Carlo Violani. The coll. includes 
c.4,000 birds skins and mounts. 

Pecs Janus Pannonius Museum, University of 
Pecs, Pecs, Hungary. Includes a small bird coll. 
For history, see: B. Solti ('1991 '=1992) J. P. 
Mus. Evkonyve 36: 59-66. 

Perpignan Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, 12 
Rue Fontaine Neuve, F-66000 Perpignan, 
France. Has a small bird coll. 

Pleven Natural History Museum, 3 Stoyan 
Zaimov Str., 5800 Pleven, Bulgaria. Tel. #- 
359-64-23569. Curator: Ivan Raychev, former 
staff I. Iliev, G. Slavchev, V. Dimitrov. 
Founded 1958, belongs to Municipality of 
Pleven. Includes c. 1,000 bird skins and 576 
mounts, including rarities from the nearby 
region of NC Bulgaria; all in a card system. 
See Dimitrov (1981). 

Plovdiv Natural Science Museum (NSMP), 34 
Hristo G. Danov Str, 4000 Plovdiv, Bulgaria. 
Tel. #-359-32-264474. Curator: Prof. Tseno 
PetrOv; former head Boris Kaltchev. Founded 
1918, belongs to the Municipality of Plovdiv. 
Includes the former coll. of the College St. 
Augustin (Philipopol), obtained 1955. Includes 
662 skins (250 species), largely from S 
Bulgaria. Card system available. See Petrov 

Plzen Zapodoceske Muzeum, Knohova vymen, 
Kopeckeho Sady 15, CZ-30000 Plzen, Czech 
Rep. Includes 500 skins. For the zoological 
coll., see: L. Hurka (1982) Sbornik 
Zapodoceske Mus. Plzni 41: 1-63. 

Porto Museu de Historia Natural - Zoologia 
(MZP), Faculdade de Ciencias do Porto, Praca 
Gomes Teixeira, P-4050 Porto, Portugal. Tel #- 
351-2-310290, fax #-351-2-2004777. Coll. 
manager Luzia Sousa, other staff Maria Jose 
Cunha. Founded in 1900 by Prof. Augusto 
Nobre; former staff Reis Junior, J. R. dos 
Santos Junior. Includes 200 bird skins and 
4,000 other items. 

Pristina Muzej Kosova i Metohije (500 PRI), 
Prirodnjacko Od., Trg. Kralja Milutina 13, 
38000 Pristina, Kosovo, Yugoslavia. Tel. #- 
381-38-20611. Curator: Ms Basanovic. 
Founded 1951, government-owned. Includes 
1,000 skins (157 species) from the Kosovo & 
Metohija region. The present status and future 
of the coll. is unknown; in late 1999, it was 
apparently unattended, as the curator was as a 
refugee in Beograd. 

Randazzo A museum in Catania province, Italy. 
Includes the coll. of A. Priolo, with 2,250 
mounted birds (389 species), mainly from E 
Sicily; see: Suppl. Ric. Biol. Selvaggina 22, 
1995. Catalogue: Priolo & Di Palma (1995). 

Ravenna Museo Ornitologico di Scienze 
Naturali del Comune di Ravenna (MOESN), 
Via Rivaletto 25, 1-48020 Sant' Alberto 
(Ravenna), Italia (office address: Loggeta 
Lombardesca, Via di Roma 13, 1-48100 
Ravenna). Tel. #-39-544-482054, fax -212092, 
e-mail museo. ornitologico® Curator Dr Linda Kniffitz 
(tel. -482761), former curator Dr Azelio Ortali. 
Founded in 1906 by Alfredo Brandolini; 
donated to the Comune di Ravenna in 1967, 
together with the large ornithological library. 
Includes 2,000 birds of 69 families, 330 eggs, 
and 91 nests, mainly of regional origin (Emilio 
Romagna), but also a wide scatter of exotic of 
birds; several Numenius tenuirostris. See 
Brandolini (1961) and Ortali (1974) for a 

Regensburg Naturkunde Museum Regensburg, 
Am Prebrunntor 4, D-93047 Regensburg, 
Germany. Tel.: 00-49-941-5073446. Director 
and curator: Dr Hansjorg Wunderer. A small 
coll. of (mainly) local birds. 

Reghin Lyzeum Nr 2, RO-4225 Reghin (Mures 
Co.), Romania. Former curator Istvan Kohl. 
The coll. includes 3,516 birds of 386 species, 
of which 149 exotic, the remainder largely 
local, often in fairly large series; also includes 
many (partial) skeletons present. See Kohl 
(1990-1991). Also in Reghin is the private 
coll. of Laszlo V Kalaber (26 Eminescu Str., 
RO-4225 Reghin; tel/fax #-40-65-520590), 
which includes 27 skins, 40 birds in alcohol, 
2,217 eggs, and 471 nests of 125 European bird 

Rennes Museum National d'Histore Naturelle, 
Universite de Rennes, Campus Beaulieu, F- 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

35042 Rennes, Prance. Curator: Dr L. Marion. 

Includes a small bird coll. 

Rimini Riserva Naturale Orientata e Museo 
Naturalistico di Onferao, Comune di 
Gemmano, Piazza Roma 1. 1-48855 Gemmano, 
Rimini. Italia. Curator: Dino Scaravelli. 
Includes 660 mounted birds, mainly from the 
region but with some from elsewhere in Italy 
or Europe. See Scaravelli (2001) 

Rostock Zoologischen Sammlung der 
Universitat Rostock (ZSRO), Institut fur 
Allgemeine und Spezielle Zoologie, Rostock, 
Germany. Head of institute: Prof. Dr R. K. 
Kinzelbach. Founded 1775 by O. G. Tychsen, 
includes colls, of A. Ch. Siemssen, G. 
Lembcke. H. Wachs, R. Kuhk, F. Hamann 
(eggs), and F J. H. von Miiller; contains c.800 
bird objects, mainly mounts and eggs 
zoologie/sammlung/voegel). See: Kinzelbach 
etal. (1997). 

Rouen Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de Rouen, 
198 rue Beauvoisine, F-76000 Rouen, France. 
Founded 1828 by F.-A. Pouchet; fairly large (1 
million zoological items), but closed for 
security reasons by 2001. 

Rudolstadt Thuringer Landesmuseum 
Heidecksburg zu Rudolstadt, beim Landkreis 
Saalfeld-Rudolstadt, SchloBbezirk 1, D-07407 
Rudolstadt, Germany. Formerly Rudolstadter 
Naturhistorischen Museum. Curator: Dr 
Eberhard Mey. Founded 1757 by Prince 
Friedrich Carl von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt; 
former curators Julius Speerschneider, Otto 
Schmiedeknecht, Gustav Kalbe, Gerhardt Jahn, 
Siegfried Kuss, Wilhelm Ennenbach (Moller 
2000). Includes local colls. (Thuringen), but 
also from Palestine, E Asia, and (on loan) those 
of Emil Weiske from (e.g.) Hawaii, Australia, 

Ruse Natural History Museum (NHMRB), 8 
Nish Str., Ruse, Bulgaria, tel #-359-82-444754, 
fax #-359-82-272397. Includes c.400 skins 
(150 species) from the Ruse region in NE 
Bulgaria, all on system cards. 

Salzburg. Haus der Natur, Museumplatz 5, A- 
5020 Sal/burg. Osterreich/Austria. Tel. #-43- 
662-842653. fax -847905, e-mail 
office*" Head Prof Dr 
Eberhard Stiiber. curator of vertebrate coll. Dr 
Robert Lindner Founded in 
the 1930s: owned by private charity (Verein fiir 

darstellende und angewandte Naturkunde Haus 
der Natur). Former curator E. P. Tratz. Includes 
c. 2,000 birds skins (e.g. from the coll. of V. 
Tschusi zu Schmidhoffen), hundreds of mounts 
(largely without proper labels), and a small but 
unknown number of skeletons, skulls, egg sets, 
nests, and feathers. The skins are mostly from 
Austria (esp. the Salzburg region), but the coll. 
includes birds also from S Germany, the 
Afrotropics, and C & S America 

San Gimignano Museo Ornitologico di S. 
Gimignano, Siena prov., Italy. The former coll. 
of the Marchioness M. Paulucci, who had 
1 ,260 mounted birds at her death in 1 9 1 1 , of 
which 696 (253 species) remain. See Massi 
(1990 & undated). 

Sankt Gallen Naturmuseum Sankt Gallen, 
MuseumstraGe 32, CH-9000 Sankt Gallen, 
Switzerland. Tel. #-41-71-2420670, fax - 
2420672. Head: Dr Toni Biirgin 
( A small coll. of 
local and exotic birds, e.g. from Ussuriland 
(Russian Far East) 

Saratov Zoological Museum of Saratov State 
University (ZMSSU), Astrakhanskaya, 83, 
Saratov 410026, Russia. Tel #-7-8452-519228, 
e-mail, Head of bird dept 
Gennady V. Shlyakhtin, coll. managers Vasili 
V. Anikin, Mikhail V. Ermokhin, Evgeny V. 
Zavyalov, also 4 other staff members; past staff 
members I. B. Volchanecky and L. A. 
Lebedeva. Specialised in the Volga-Ural 
region, but a large coll. was lost in fire; the 
present coll. of 1,900 bird skins was formed 
after 1991 and is registered on card and 
computer; c.200 species are represented. The 
average increase at present is 1,000 skins 
annually, from own expeditions. 

Schlagl Schlagl Institut, Osterreich. A small bird 
coll. See Petz (1984). 

Sheffield Sheffield City Museum, Weston Park, 
S10 2TP Sheffield, U.K. Tel #-44-1 14- 
2782600. Keeper of Natural History: Derek 
Whiteley. Includes a small bird coll.: see D. 
Whiteley (1984) Magpie 3: 47-53. 

Siracusa Liceo Classico T. Gargallo'. Hosts the 
Riza coll., originally of 2,700 mounts (of 
which only 330 survive). Former curator: Prof. 
G. Sturniolo. See Naturalista Siciliano 18: 297- 

Southend-on-Sea Southend Central Museum 
(SOUMS), Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

SS2 6EW, Essex, U.K. Tel: #-44-1702- 
215640, fax -215631. Senior Keeper of Natural 
History: John Skinner 
( Includes 30 
skins, c.500 mounts (mainly from the colls, of 
C. Parsons and J. D. Hoy), and 300 egg sets, 
mostly of local origin (Essex); see Pollitt 

Split Prirodoslovnog Muzeja, 58000 Split, 
Croatia. Curator Dr G. Piasevoli; contains 
1,161 birds of 230 species: see Lams 43: 89- 

Stettin see Szczetin 

Stia Collezione ornitologica 'Carlo Beni', Stia, 
Arezzo prov., Italy. Includes c.500 mounts 
collected around 1900 in Tuscany. Is moving to 
the visitor centre of the Parco Nazionale 
Foreste Casentinesi. See G. Tellini Florenzano 

Suceava Museum Departamental, Suceava, 
Romania. For the small bird coll., see M. 
Vasiliu, A. Ulsamer, D. Zaharia, & D. R. 
Maxim (1983) Anuarul Muz. jud. Fasc. Stiint. 
Nat. 7: 75-95 

Swansea Swansea Museum, Victoria Road, 
Maritime Quarter, Swansea SA2 0JE, U.K. 
Tel: #-44-1792-653763, fax -652585. Curator: 
Bernice Cardy. Founded 1834, owned by 
Swansea City Council. Includes c.200 mounts, 
a few skeletons, and 200 eggs sets, mostly 
British, e.g. of the colls, of John Naylor (1860) 
and W. G. Percy Player. 

Sykkylven Sykkylven Naturhistorisk Museum , 
Kulturkontoret, N-6230 Sykkylven, Norway. 
Tel. #-47-7025-1500, fax -1501. Has a small 
bird coll. 

Szczetin (Stettin) This Polish city once housed 
a museum which, among others, contained the 
coll. of its former founder and curator H. 
Dohrn, with birds of, e.g., the Cape Verde Is. 
After 1945 this coll. was transferred to 
Warszawa, but many of the Dohrn specimens 
seem to have been lost. See Hazevoet (1995). 

Tallinn Eesti Loodusmuuseum/ Estonian 
Museum of Natural History, Lai tn. 29A, 
Tallinn 10133, Estonia (work address of 
zoology dept.: Kopli tn. 76, 10416 Tallinn). 
Tel. #-372-6-411738, e-mail The bird coll. includes 
material of V. Russow, A. Rauch, and P. 

Tbilisi Zoological Institute (ZIT), Georgian 
Academy of Sciences, 31 Chavchavadze pr., 

380030 Tbilisi, Georgia. Founded by G. Radde, 
now part of the Georgian Academy of 
Sciences. Includes the large coll. of G Radde 
and others, mainly from the Caucasus area, 
Crimea, NE Turkey, Soviet Far East, etc. The 
Tbilisi coll. was in poor condition in c.1985, 
when it was stored undergroud. 

Tessenderlo Bosmuseum Gerhagen, Zavelberg 
10, B-3980 Tessenderlo, Belgium. Tel & fax #- 
32-13-3673844/ -3663448, e-mail Contact: Jos 
Thijs. Founded 1968 as part of the Werkgroep 
Ecologie Tessenderlo (WET), a volunteer 
association (secretary: Herman Vermeulen, Includes a coll. of 
c.330 mounted birds, mostly local and recently 

Thessaloniki Zoological Museum (LZUT), 
University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 
Greece. Director: Dr Elena Voultsidou- 
Koukoura. Includes a small bird coll. 

Timisoara A museum in this W Romanian city 
has a small bird coll. Curator: D. Lintia 

Torino see Turin 

Tournai Musee d'Histoire Naturelle et 
Vivarium, Cour d'Honneur de 1' Hotel de Ville, 
B-7500 Tournai (Doornik), Belgium. Tel. #-32- 
69-322345, fax -233939, e-mail Conservateur Dr Philippe 
Brunin, conservateur-adjoint Christophe Remy; 
former curator Paul Simon. Founded 1828, 
with most acquisitions before 1860. Of the 
4,700 bird skins and mounts only 1,000-2,000 
have proper labels; the other original labels 
were inadvertently thrown away in the 1960s. 
The coll. includes a small number of skeletons 
(c.20) and eggs (c.30). 

Trieste Museo Civico do Storia Naturale 
(MSNT), Piazza Hortis 2, 1-34123 Trieste, 
Italy. A small bird coll., which includes some 
exotic ones. A catalogue of all birds is 

Tubingen Zoologische Sammlung der 
Universitat Tiibingen (ZST), Tubingen, 
Germany. Curator: Dr Erich Weber 
(; tel. #-49- 
7071-29-4634). A coll. founded c.1841 and 
now part of the Zoologisches Institut der 
Eberhard-Karls-Universitat Tubingen. Includes 
about 2,000 bird skins and mounts, 1,300 
(partial) skeletons, 500 egg sets, and a small 
feather coll., to which 20-50 items are added 
annually (mainly feather sets and skeletons); 

C.S. Roselaar 


Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

includes part of the coll. of Herzog Paul von 
\\ iirttemberg. All items on card, newer ones on 

Turin/Torino The Collegio San Giuseppe in 
Tumi (CSGT) includes a large coll. of c. 1000 
mounted hummingbirds, totalling 226 species, 
brought together by Pietro Franchetti ( 1 878— 
1964). See Aimassi & Levi (1999) for a 

Turku Zoological Museum (MZT), Centre for 
Biodiversity, University of Turku, FIN-20014 
Turku. Finland. Contact person: Ari Karhilahti 
(taxidermist) ( Past curator P. 
Voipio: inch a skin coll. from K. S. Ehnberg. 
The MZT has 1,726 skins, 700 mounts, 1,000- 
1.500 egg sets, 160 spread wings, and fewer 
than 100 skeletons and birds in alcohol, all 
largely from Finland, to which 50-150 birds 
are added annually. All are on computer. For a 
catalogue, see 

Turnhout Natuurhistorisch Museum van 
Natuurvereniging De Wielewaal, Graatakker 
1 1 . B-2300 Turnhout, Belgium. Includes a 
small coll. of mounted birds 

Udine Museo Friuliano di Storia Naturale, Via 
Grazzano 1, 1-33100 Udine, Italy. Has a small 
bird coll., curated by a taxidermist. Skin 
catalogue available. For the egg catalogue, see: 
R. Parodi et al. (1988) Mus. Friulano Stor. Nat. 
Pubbl. 34: 1-30. 

Varna Museum of Natural History (MNHV), 
P.O. Box 173, 9000 Varna, Bulgaria. Tel #-359- 
52-601891, fax #-359-52-681025. Curator: 
Georgi Raychev, former curator Ivan Peshev. 
Founded 1960, owned by Municipality of 
Varna. Contains 350 bird skins of c. 140 
species, all on card; c.20 added annually, 
mainly birds from the Varna area (NE 

Vercelli (Italy) Includes a small coll. of 580 
mounted birds, made by Mr. Ferrero (see 
Suppl. Ric. Biol. Selvaggina 22, 1995). 

Vienna/Wien The Vienna University has a small 
bird coll.. which for instance includes 2 
Heteralocha acutirostris. 

Winterthur Naturwissenschaftliche 
Sammlungen Stadt Winterthur, MuseumstraBe 
52, CH-8400 Winterthur, Switzerland. Tel. #- 
41-52-2675166, fax -2675319. Includes a 
small coll. of local birds. 

Witney Oxfordshire County Council Museums, 
Oxfordshire Museums Store, Cotswold Dene, 

Standlake, Witney, Oxon 0X29 7QG, U.K. 
Tel.: #-44-1865-300639, fax -300519. Curator 
of Biological Records Centre: John Campbell 
(John. campbell@ From 
Aug 2000, includes the egg coll. of the 
Jourdain Society, which started from 1964 with 
the donations of older colls, of deceased 
members. The most important contributors 
were K. J. Pickford, C. J. Pring, J. W. 
Mullholland, and S. A. R. Smith (but not F. C. 
R. Jourdain himself: his egg coll. is in Tring). 
Has 12,000 egg sets, mostly on card, 5,000 on 
computer, from the entire W Palearctic. The 
museum store also includes a coll. of over 300 
eggs of Theed Pearce, donated by Bruce 

Yerevan Zoological Institute (ZIA), Armenian 
Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia. Has 
a bird coll. of unknown size. 

York Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens, 
York, North Yorkshire YOl 7ER, U.K. Tel.: #- 
44-1904-629745, fax -651221. Asst. Curator of 
Natural Science: Stuart Ogilvy. Contains 3,073 
bird skins and c. 2,000 eggs (Denton 1995). 

Please note the addresses of 2 other institutions 
interested in zoological/ ornithological collections: 

(1) the ornithological collections survey of the 
International Ornithological Committee, c/o 
Walter J. Bock, Dept. of Biological Sciences, 
Box 37, Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia 
University, New York NY 10027, USA; 

(2) the ESF Network of Systematic Biology, 
secretary Ms Nicola Donlon, The Natural 
History Museum, Cromwell Road, London 
SW7 5DB, U.K. 

Not listed above but not unimportant are the 
collections specialising in vocalisations of birds: 

( 1 ) National Sound Archive of the British Library 
(Curator of Wildlife Sounds: Richard Ranft), 
96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, U.K. (tel 
#-44-171-4127402, e-mail richard.ranft@; 

(2) The Boris N. Veprintsev Phonotheca of 
Animal Voices (Olga D. Veprintseva, V V 
Leonovich, S. A. Boukreev), Inst, of 
Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics of 
Russia, Academy of Sciences, 142292 
Pushchino, Russia. See Veprintseva (1999). 

Many other museum collections also contain bird 
sound libraries. 

C.S.Roselaar 309 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 


This list largely originated from data supplied by the curators of the various collections mentioned. 
They receive my most sincere thanks, especially those who also provided data on collections from 
which no response was received or who supplied literature on these. I hope that these combined efforts 
will benefit all and will lead to a better use of European bird collections and an increasing mutual 
cooperation of their staff and students. Many additional data and comments were received from Jorn 
Scharlemann and Frank Steinheimer during the final stages of this paper. 


These are mainly on the history, catalogues, or type lists of European bird collections, as supplied by 
respondents to the questionnaires. The data were in part supplied incompletely, but no attempt has been 
made to improve them, nor were the texts of the referred articles checked to see whether the questionnaires 
were filled in correctly. This is not a complete list of all existing literature on type catalogues; for a more 
full list of these, see Wiktor & Rydzewski (1991) below. Literature cited in the introduction and elsewhere 
is given here also. 

Aimassi, G, & Levi, L. 1999. The Hummingbird Collection in Collegio San Guiseppe (Turin, Italy). 

Cataloghi Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali Torino 1 1 . 
Almaca, C. 1987. A zoologia e a antropologia na Escola Politecnica e na Faculdade de Ciencias da 

Universidade de Lisboa (ate 1983). In: Braganca Gil, F. & da Graca Salvado Canelhas, M. (eds.) 

Exposicao comemorativa do 150.° aniversdrio da Escola Politecnica e do 75.° aniversdrio da 

Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade de Lisboa. Ramos Afonso & Moita, Lisboa. [Also, a 120 

pp catalogue to the exposition was published.] 
Almaca, C. 1993. Bosquejo historico da zoologia em Portugal. Museu Nacional de Historia Natural, 

Museu e Laboratorio Zoologico e Antropologico (Museu Bocage), Lisboa. 
Almaca, C. 1996. A natural history of the 18th century: the Royal Museum and Botanical Garden of 

Ajuda. Museu Nacional de Historia Natural, Museu e Laboratorio Zoologico e Antropologico (Museu 

Bocage), Lisboa. 
Almaca, C. (ed.) 1994. Professor Germano da Fonseca Sacarrao (1914-1992). Museu Nacional de 

Historia Natural, Museu e Laboratorio Zoologico e Antropologico (Museu Bocage), Lisboa. 

[Memorial volume to Prof. Sacarrao, former director of the Mus. Bocage] 
Almaca, C. & Neves, A. M. 1987. The Museu Bocage and the new series of its Arquivos. Arq. Mus. 

Bocage NS1: 1-8. 
Andriuskevicius, A. & Macikunas, A. 1988. The catalogue of vertebrate specimens of the Kaunas 

Zoological Museum named after T Ivanauskas. Vilnius. 
Anonymous [= H. Gretzer] 1907. Collections du Musee d'Histoire naturelle de Son Altesse Roy ale 

Ferdinand I, Prince de Bulgarie. Impr. de l'Etat, Sofia. 
Ansorge, H. 1987. Die Vogelsammlung des Staatlichen Museums fur Naturkunde Gorlitz — Belege zur 

Ornis der Oberlausitz. Abh. Ber. Naturkundemus. Gorlitz 60(5): 1-12. 
Arbocco, G, Capocaccia, L. & Violani, C. 1979. Catalogo dei tipi di uccelli del Museo Civico di Storia 

Naturale di Genova. Ann. Mus. civico Stor. Nat. Genova 82: 184-265. 
Arbocco, G, Capocaccia, L. & Violani, C. 1987. Catalogue of bird types in the collections of the Natural 

History Museum of Genoa: some addenda. Ann. Mus. civico Stor. Nat. 'Giacomo Doria'S6: 13-28. 
Arnone, M. & Orlando, V E. 1990. 1 tipi delle raccolte del Museo Civico di Terrasini, primo contributo: 

Aves. Naturalista Siciliano 14: 25-32. 
Aubrecht, G 1987. Die Sammlung Zoologie/Wirbeltiere im OO. Landesmuseum. Oberosterreich 37(3): 

Aubrecht, G 1995. Andreas Reischek (15.9.1845-3.4.1902) — ein osterreichischer Ornithologe in 

Neuseeland. Illustrierte biographische Notizen. Stapfia 41: 9-50. 
Aubrecht, G & Bauernfeind, E., et al. 1995. Kiwis und Vulkane — Zum 150. Geburtstag des 

Neuseelandforschers Andreas Reischek. Stapfia 41: 1-129. 
Aubrecht, G & Mayer, G Th. 1983. Zoologische Sammlungen, 1932-1982. Wirbeltierkundige 

Sammlungen. Jahrb. Oberosterreich. Mus. Ver. 128(2): 125-136. 

C.S.Roselaar 310 Bull. B.O.C. 2003 123 A 

Hanks. R. C. Clench. M. H. & Barlow, J. C. 1973. Bird collections in the United States and Canada. Auk 

90: 136-170. 
Barreiro, J. l c ) c )7. Las colecciones de aves y mamfteros del Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales 

(CSIC). Graellsia 53: 101-106. 
Barreiro, J. ^ Perez del Val,J. 1998.Catalogode las colecciones de aves del Museo Nacional de Ciencias 

Naturales. Aves no paseriformes: pieles de estudio. Mammies Tecnicos de Museologia (MNCN- 

CSIC. Madrid) 7: 1-289. 
Baud. F. J. 1976. Oiseaux des Philippines de la collection W. Parsons. I. Cebu, Samar, Romblon, Tablas 

et Sibuyan. Revue Zool. 83: 497-513. 
Baud. F. J. 1977. Catalogue des types de mammiferes et d'oiseaux du Museum d'Histoire naturelle de 

Geneve. Revue Suisse Zool. 84: 201-220. 
Baud. F. J. 1978. Oiseaux des Philippines de la collection W. Parsons. II. Luzon, Mindoro et Palawan. 

Revue suisse Zool. 85: 55-97. 
Beczy, T. L. 197 1. Catalogue of the oological collection of the Museum in Oradea. Muzeul Tarii Crisurilor, 

Benson. C. W. 1970-1971. The Cambridge collection from the Malagasy Region. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 

90: 168-172:91: 1-7. 
Benson, C. W. 1972. Skins of extinct or near extinct birds in Cambridge. Bull. Brit. Orn. CI. 92: 59-68. 
Benson. C. W. 1999. Type specimens of bird skins in the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, 

United Kingdom. Brit. Orn. CI. Occ. Publ. 4, Tring, U.K. 
Berlin, A. 1988. Fagelmuseet i Jonkopings stadspark. Bubo 17: 130-135. 
Berlioz, J. 1929. Catalogue systematique des types de la collection d'oiseaux du Museum, ratites- 

palmipedes. Bull. Mus. Natn. Hist. Nat., Ser. 2(1): 58-69. 
Berlioz. J. 1935. Notice sur les specimens naturalises d'oiseaux eteints existant dans les collections du 

Museum. Arch. Mus. Natn. Hist. Nat. 6: 485-495. 
Berlioz. J. 1950. L'histoire des collections des mammiferes et d'oiseaux du museum. Bull. Mus. Natn. 

Hist. Nat. 22: 166-180. 
Blandamer, J. S. & Burton, P. J. K. 1979. Anatomical specimens of birds in the collections of the British 

Museum (Natural History). Bull. Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.), Zool. Ser. 34(4): 125-180. 
Bochenski. Z. 1966. Uwagi o zbiorze jaj ptasich Kazimierza Wodzickiego (sen.). Acta Zool. Cracoviensia 

11(1): 1-40. 
Bochenski, Z. 1984. Zbior szkieletow ptakow w Zakladzie Zoologii Systematycznej i Doswiadczalnej 

PAN. [The collection of bird skeletons at the Institute of Systematic and Experimental Zoology of 

the Polish Academy of Sciences] Przeglad Zool. 28(1): 81-86. 
Bochenski, Z. 1990. Ptaki w zbiorach Zakladu Zoologii Systematycznej i Doswiadczalnej PAN w 

Krakowie. Wszechswiat 91(1-3): 4-7. 
von Boetticher, H. 1940. Verzeichnis der Typen in der Vogelsammlung der Museum der Zoologisches 

Institut der Universitat Halle an der Saale. Zeitschr. Naturwiss. 94: 205-214. 
Boev, Z. 1990. Parrots (order Psittaciformes) in the collection of the National Natural History Museum, 

Sofia. Historia Naturalis Bulgarica 2: 3-6. 
Boev, Z. 1991. Ornithological collections of the National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian 

Academy of Sciences. Historia Naturalis Bulgarica 3: 37-48. 
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Boev, Z. 1997. Stuart Baker's collection of birds in the National Museum of Natural History (Sofia). 

Historia Naturalis Bulgarica 7: 5-12. 
Bogdanov, A. 1 892. La Musee Zoologique de VUniversite de Moscou. Moscow. 
Bokotei, A. A. 1994. [About the ornithological collection of the State Natural History Museum of the 

Academy of Sciences of Ukraine]. Pp. 159- 160 in Grishchenko, V. N. & Vergeles, Yu. I. (eds.) 

Material) I -) konferentsiii molodikh ornitologiv Ukraini (Luts'k, 4-6 bereziya 1994 g.). Ukrains'ke 

ornitologichne tovaristvo Akad. Nauk Ukraini, Chernovtsy. 
Bon. \L, Richard. J. & Semenzato, M. 1993. La collezione di vertebrati di Giacomo Bisacco Palazzi 

come tcstimonianza storica delle trasformazioni dell' ambiente planiziale e costiero Veneto [in 

Museum Veneziu]. Lavori -Soc. Veneziana Sc. Naturali 18: 133-171. 

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Brandolini, A. 1961. Catalogo della mia collezione di uccelli del ravennate. Fratelli Lega, Faenza. 

Britton, P. L. 1978. The Andersen collection from Tanzania. Scopus 2: 77-85. 

Britton, P. L. 1981. Notes on the Andersen collection and other specimens from Tanzania housed in 

some West German museums. Scopus 5: 14-21. 
Busch, R. 1957. Zur Chronik des Museum Heineanum. Falke 4: 45-52. 
Cabanis, J. [from vol 2 together with F. Heine] 1850-1863. Museum Heineanum: Verzeichnis der 

ornithologischen Sammlung des Oberamtmann Ferdinand Heine, auf Gut St. Burchard vor 

Halberstadt. Halberstadt. 
Cabot Nieves, J. 1992. Inventario de la Coleccion Ornitologica. Pp. 19-39 in Cabot, J. (ed.) Inventario 

de las colecciones herpetologica y ornitologica de la Estacion Biologica de Dohana. Consejo 

Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Sevilla. 
Capocaccia, L. & Poggi, R. 1982. Short history of the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale 'Giacomo Doria' 

in Genoa, Italy. Arch. Hat. Hist. 11: 107-122. 
Carreira, I. M. G. 1984-1986. Catalogo das aves de regiao neotropical existentes no Museu Zoologico 

da Universidade de Coimbra 1 & 2. Cienc. Biol. Ecol. Syst. 5: 195-249; 6: 35-122. 
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bird fauna. Proc. VIII Pan-Afr. Orn. Congr.: 77-79. 
Cowper, S. G. 1984. Birds from the Mascarene Islands in the collections of the Merseyside County 

Museums. Bull. Mauritius Inst. 10: 7-14. 
Crnkovic, R., Radovic, D. & Susie, G. 1993. The oological collection of the Institute of Ornithology in 

Zagreb. Larus 44/45: 65-74. 
Dal Fiume, C. 1907. Catalogo di una collezione di uccelli della Colonia Eritrea [in Verona]. Milan: Atti 

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Davies, K. C. & Hull, J. 1976. The zoological collections of the Oxford University Museum. Oxford. 
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Denton, M. L. 1995. Birds in the Yorkshire Museum. Yorkshire Museum Publ. 1-216. 
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